On Tuesday Caleb and I went to visit some friends at their cabin in Maine. We arrived early in the evening at the tall and narrow house that stood like a chimney among the evergreens. Only steps away from the back door was Crawford Pond, stretching out into the darkness.

We ate dinner together. And then, as the last hint of sun faded down the horizon, we waded into the water. In the cooling night air, it felt warm as a bath. The only light a distant glow, we looked around at thick black ink. As our forms disappeared, our voices echoed on the water through the silent night. Loons wailed in the darkness, lonely wolf cries.

Next morning I walked out to read on the dock. By the shore, reeds stood slender and tall, green at the tips fading into yellow at the base. Pine, birch, oak, and hemlock framed the water, dark green and thriving. They clustered thickly, and underneath them stood a blanket of fern. The evergreens reflected sharply in the water – dancing in a moving picture. The water looked like blown glass, smooth and shining and traced with moving shapes. In some places long furrows vibrated in the wind, in others the water puckered in tiny pearls. Suddenly, the placid water exploded as a silver body flashed in a ripple of concentric circles – the leap of a fish.

Three of us took the canoe and kayak to row around the pond and explore the island that stands in the middle. On the opposite shore we saw a blue heron. The bird moved along shore with dignity, stepping delicately in precise rhythm, with head erect. At the end of a long, curving neck, its snake-like head and needle-thin beak darted forward at ever step. It turned to look at us. Its body disappeared and all we could see was a fierce eyeball glaring.

When we ventured too close, the heron took flight. It unfurled its great wings and beat them in long, lifting strokes. It climbed up, drawing a spiral in the air. Then it caught a current and rode away on the wind.