On March 27, 2019 six great egrets are spotted in a grove of pines a few yards from the old colony. Hardly drawing attention to themselves, they have built their nest platforms. Now they peek out from the pine needles and begin their ceremonial behavior. They fan out feathers into a lacy cape. The lores, the area between eyes and beak, change from yellow to a brilliant green, nearly neon. They point their beaks to the sky.
Occasionally they fly, circling their chosen spot. One is seen at the pre-school next door, snipping a branch from a tree in the schoolyard and returning to expand the nest.
Their return was anticipated, but the return was never for sure. Now six egrets begin. Soon they may be joined by more great egrets and the later arriving snowy egrets.
Looking at a map of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, it is provocative to see that this egret colony is at the center.
It is a window showing the natural world that is always with us, peeking through the constructions of civilization with a spiritual force.
How much natural world do we need? “Half-Earth,” says E. O. Wilson in his book of the same title.