Writing and the Egrets

Went on a walk in Alameda, CA, about thirty minutes from where I live on the marsh in Emeryville, to see the egrets nesting. Although we have egrets here, I understand there are about twenty places in this San Francisco Bay area that they actually build a nest and lay their eggs. They nest in colonies and the trees they pick and return to year after year are often called colonized trees because many nests are built in one tree or an several close by trees.

Last night I saw three huge nests in an evergreen overlooking the swampy canal and about twenty-five snowy egrets and the larger yellow billed egrets building nests in the same tree. The snowy egrets have black bills and black larges with yellow (boots) feet. The yellow billed egret has, of course, a yellow bill and yellow legs. Easy to distinguish by color and size. They were easy to see and fun to watch them gathering twigs and adding to the huge nests and even fighting over a twig or, perhaps, territory.

I had never heard them “talking” to each other and marveled at all the sounds they make as they build a nest. They “talk” in two syllables of two tones so it sounds like Rare-bit or Lar-ry. One unaccented syllable, one with the accented down beat.

How does this related to writing memoir? How can nature make memoir richer? You may already know that part of the magic of memoir is that everything you experience makes you who you are and if you give yourself magical experiences, you become more magical yourself. Your relationship to awe shows in your writing.

In other words, you may never write about the time you went to the marsh to see the egrets, but you have in your body a time of observing nature’s cycle in these beautiful birds, some with fluffy white headdresses and the long s of a neck carrying bits of trees in their long beaks.


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