Dec 31 2009
Though snowy egrets rarely visit southwestern Pennsylvania, they’re one of my favorite birds. They’re very photogenic and so self-absorbed that they usually don’t notice people near them. I see them up close in Florida. Kim Steininger photographed this one at Bombay Hook, Delaware.
When I see snowy egrets I think of their mispronounced name – “No Regrets” – which I learned from Larry Levis’ poem, Slow Child with a Book of Birds. The poem is set in winter. Here’s the excerpt:
“Yesterday, the slow child on the bus, talkative
Amidst the fully evolved quiet of those
Around us muffled in their parkas, was showing me
A Snowy Egret in the book he carried,
“No Regrets,” he said, pointing to its eyes,
To a brassy, unassailable candor in them.
“No Regrets,” he said again, for the pleasure
Of it, & smiled, absorbed in it,”
— from Slow Child with a Book of Birds by Larry Levis,
The Widening Spell of the Leaves, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991.
Used by permission of the publisher.
Yes, this bird has that look on his face. No regrets, indeed!
(photo by Kim Steininger)