FEB 14, 2002


On the morning of St. Valentine’s Day there was an article in the ‘Houston Chronicle’ about the origins of this special day.

Apparently it was thought that February 14, 2002 was the day that birds chose their mates and so I wanted to visit the Great Blue Heron rookery to see if there was any truth to the legend.

The sky was cloudy but not in a very pretty way. As I neared Oakhurst, which is about a mile from the turn off to Waterwood Parkway, I began to wonder if God would show me something unusual or beautiful as He often does at the entrance to the parkway.

As I turned left I looked to the West and lo and behold, my eyes were greeted by an exceptionally bright sundog, about the same size as the rainbow-hued sundog I had seen just two days before. This sundog however had some color but was mostly an intense white light. I took a few photos and am anxious to see the results.

When I arrived at the house, I gathered my binoculars, an extra roll of film, jacket and hat, lowered the boat, and took off toward the rookery.

On the way I encountered numerous gulls and terns which like to follow the boat in order to eat the little fish that they find in the wake. None of them seemed to be aware that it was Valentine’s Day.

I scanned the skies and shoreline for the eagles but I assumed that they must have just been passing through.

When I arrived at the heron rookery, however, there was great activity. The herons were obviously aware that today was Valentine’s Day and had donned their fanciest breeding plumage. The trees were alive with bill clacking, squawking, and stick shaking herons. Others were fishing along the shore, while still others were flying about, looking like some sort of pre-historic flying dinosaurs. (Incidentally, today’s Chronicle had an article about fossil discoveries in China that prove that birds descended from dinosaurs.)

Just as I shot the last photo on the roll of film in the camera, I heard the unforgettable sound of the arrival of death machines. My first encounter with these black agents of death was at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in the summer of ’69. We were being trained to forget our humanity and to chant, “kill them all and let God sort them out” in preparation for being sent to Viet Nam. We were told to shoot first and ask questions later. It didn’t matter if the victim was an old man, a woman or a child.

Even today, when I hear one of those double bladed monsters I think of all the tens of thousands of innocent lives which were sacrificed to feed America’s war machine and the captains of industry who profited from the sale of napalm and body bags.

Flying low over the treetops of the Zwickey Creek Sanctuary were two black military helicopters which suddenly sprang into view heading straight toward the heron rookery on the shores of The Wilderness Cathedral.

I fumbled with my camera, attempting to change the film. Once again I had taken my last shot of the herons, but at least this time I had thought to bring another role of film. By the time I was ready to shoot the helicopters were out of sight as they were flying so low. 

Here I was, at a special place dedicated to God, Creation and World Peace, and the last thing I wanted to see were death machines flying overhead. The phrase ‘forebodings of war’ kept repeating itself in my mind, as our government seems to be steering a collision course toward World War III.

Why can’t we all be working toward world peace instead of world war? Why can’t America set an ethical example for others to follow instead of attempting to gain total control of all of the resources of Planet Eden so that it can be sucked dry even faster?

I think the death machines were sent to me so that I could warn America that we must steer our ship of state toward peace, democracy, freedom, and conservation of our planet’s dwindling resources rather than toward death and destruction.

In order to soothe my frayed nerves, I stopped the boat just offshore from the rookery and gently floated by, watching the courtship display which resumed as soon as the agents of death had gone. There is something wonderfully mysterious about these immense gangly flying dinosaurs which takes one’s soul back in time and space to an era before humans had invented machines of mass destruction.

As the sun was setting and just as I was about to start the engine of the boat in order to return home, I saw a beautiful raptor fly overhead and land at the top of a dead pine farther down the shore. It was the eagle-tormenting Osprey! Now I know why I didn’t see the eagles today. As I departed I shook my fist at the Osprey and said, “Why do you have to be such a bully? Why can’t you learn to get along with the bird that is the symbol for the greatness of America as it was founded. You act more like our current pack of war mongering political leaders than a peace loving bird of great beauty which you should represent.”

Giving the Osprey that tongue lashing made me feel a little better and I wished I could give our more violent natured politicians a similar lecture even though I know that neither the Osprey nor the politicians would pay even one lick of attention to me.

“Forebodings of war, forebodings of war, forebodings of war……I sure wish I could get that unsettling phrase out of my head.”


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