The evening’s excitement was blue.

If I had procrastinated just a little longer this evening, I’d have missed a great blessing. As it was, I had just enough minutes to take a walk and make it back before dark. I wished I had given myself time to drive somewhere different, but I did take a slightly different route. What I saw made me thankful in the end about all the timing.

As I set out I was recalling how I wanted to share pictures of the lemon curd I made last week. The color is so gorgeous, not just Lemon Yellow but Lemon and Egg Yellow. I’m not a fan of yellow for decorating my house or my self, but when I had just got my driver’s license as a teenager, I thought I’d like to have a yellow pick-up.

That idea must have been a response to discussion about such things among my friends; I can’t imagine that I was dreaming or scheming  on my own initiative, as I don’t seem to have a (good or bad) ambitious bone in my body. I know I never tried in any way to get a vehicle. This evening, musing on my lack of yellow clothing, I emerged from the redwood grove at a street to see a yellow pick-up. I have to say, the one I “wanted” was older and rounder, but just about that color.

That was fun. I walked and walked and found blue and purple things to take pictures of. Lovely rosemary, and a too-blue house, that was trying to be a flag. Yellow, too, narcissus of a form that always pleases me when I see it at this time of year.

I ended up on the bridge over the creek close to my house, and there a man with a camera spoke to me; he wanted to talk with someone about the kingfishers he has been trying to photograph for six years. I have been walking along this creek for 25 years and I didn’t know we had kingfishers. He said there was an otter in the creek lower down a couple of years ago, too.

I mentioned the bald eagles I’d seen; he had not had that experience. And he said I certainly would have heard the kingfishers, they make such a racket as they fly just above the water, very fast. Would I have forgotten that? Of course it’s possible. I’m still surprised, though not incredulous, at what I have forgotten. The man was kind enough to introduce himself to me and shake hands, and he and I walked in the same direction down the path, talking about good places to see birds, and good hikes to take.

And then, a great commotion, there they were, tearing down the creek channel behind the trees, not stopping to have their picture taken. So noisy! You probably all know their sound already but if not, you can listen here. About three minutes later, back they came just as loud and fast, but this time I glimpsed a flash of blue.

I was so happy to see that Mary Oliver wrote a poem about the kingfisher, because that wild creature may remain a phantom blue noise for me for a while to come, but — there was a sighting!


The kingfisher rises out of the black wave
like a blue flower, in his beak
he carries a silver leaf. I think this is
the prettiest world — so long as you don’t mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?
There are more fish than there are leaves
There are more fish than there are leaves
on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher
wasn’t born to think about it, or anything else.
When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water
remains water–hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.
I don’t say he’s right. Neither
do I say he’s wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry
I couldn’t rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.

-Mary Oliver









(bird photos from Internet)

21 thoughts on “The evening’s excitement was blue.

  1. Kingfishers tend to stick to the territory they’ve chosen, too. If you ever see one, look at that spot whenever you happen by, and you’ll probably see the bird again. There’s one that sits on a particular section of telephone wire on a particular Galveston county road. Every single time I travel that road, I see the bird. They’re skittish, but the good news is that, if they do fly, they’re likely to make that rattling call.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A delightful yellow walk with you; glad you met a fellow photographer – I was just wondering how you managed to get such a gorgeous photograph of the ‘blue flash’ when I saw it was borrowed. I am pleased to see what these kingfishers look like and I enjoyed reading the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love everything about this “sensory” post! Birds, colors, nature sounds, and Mary Oliver…a few of my favorite things!


  4. Don’t you love it when this, when just the right moment is the result of just the right timing — five minutes earlier or later you’d have missed it! Yellow has always been a favorite color in my palette and that lemon curd (my favorite) looks divine! Oh, what a productive task. I think I’d just open a jar, grab a spoon and head to my corner with a book and tea!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you were able to see the Kingfishers. We have them here by the lake but don’t notice them unless they fly up and make their grating noise.

    I do enjoy Mary Oliver’s poems, but I didn’t know she’d written one about the Kingfisher.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I did click to listen, and loved the little critter. In that particular video, he looks all dressed up in formal wear, but seems to be having a bad hair day because of the wind. This is another of your many delightful posts. How clever you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, that lemony curd is calling to me!

    How lovely to have a chat with a new acquaintance about birds along your route. Every time I see photos of kingfishers, I wish I could see them in person (and attempt my own shots, of course).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I walked over to the creek this evening at about the same time wondering if I might see them again, and I did! I heard them first, and then looked carefully. This time they lighted briefly on trees twice, and I got to see their blueness a little longer. 🙂


  8. I love seeing the kingfishers along the shore, but try as I might, I cannot get good photos of them. They are so fast and I so slow. Lemon curd, kingfishers, and an interesting encounter on your walk make for a really lovely post. Also the Mary Oliver poem which is new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have not thought of kingfishers in quite some time. When we lived on the farm there was a kingfisher house placed in the middle of one of the ponds, the one seen from the house. I remember, the Belted Kingfisher. Wonderful story of your dreams of a yellow pickup.😊

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been blessed with seeing a lot of Kingfishers here in western Washington.

    The narcissus photos brought back a long-buried memory. Over 30 years ago I lived with my grandmother for a few years in Kansas, and she liked for me to take her on drives through the country. One spring evening her keen eyes spotted an enormous patch of narcissus, gleaming from the site of a long-abandoned farmhouse. We returned a few days later to dig up about a foot of them, and it was clear that many decades before, they had been planted alongside the foundation that was all that remained of the home. I hope they are still growing, both the transplanted ones in her yard, and the secret garden on the old homestead.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve always wanted to make lemon curd but never have. Maybe this will be the summer. Yours is so rich and beautiful! I had an orange VW (and I don’t like orange either!) as a teen. I don’t know kingfishers, but yesterday on a drive to a very low area of our county where the ditches were full to overflowing, I saw something splashing in the ditch water. It was an otter, sticking his head up, looking at me as I drove slowly by.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We have that same kind of Kingfisher here in our neck of the woods. But not easy to spot, even harder to take photos of. It’s always a joy spotting one. Usually by the call first then I’d go look for its source. That video is helpful as a reminder of what sound to follow. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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