On the last bridge with the last creek before the
parking lot entrance to my office, I can view the last panorama of altered nature before I begin my work. The creek has concrete borders, but it trickles in a fairly natural way.
Every morning I look out at that creek, and see a good-sized but immature white heron in almost the same place. I anthropomorphize that heron in my imagination so that it becomes almost a "friend" to me. It doesn't do anything for me, exactly. It just stands there. It never performs any of those nature show maneuvers. I see it as I drive by, when I crane my head over towards it slightly, as my car is going 30 miles an hour. I see it, have a little "heron moment"--a moment in which the heron is part of some great nature panorama (complete with concrete), and I drive on.
A heron moment is arguably a more comforting fantasy than some crushes on women I had in my single days; after all, I never worry whether the heron could ever "like" me. I assume a sort of heron-Gurdonark compatriotism far less physical and needy(thankfully, I quickly ponder) and yet far more friendly, if remote, than headier (and sometimes rather cinematic but certainly futile) fantasies about strangers I was also destined never to really meet or know. After all the heron is not an "other" in my mind--the heron is part of my world. I never need to meet or feed or hug or talk with this heron. The heron will be part of my world whenever I pass by, and he is there.
Today when I drove by, the heron was not there. There's no melodramatic eco-drama here; he literally was just gone. He may be back tomorrow. He may have flown to creeks with more plentiful mosquito fish. But when I noticed my surprise at his absence, and felt a mild feeling of lack, I realized that in my mind he was "my" heron, although in fact he was never mine at all. I "own" everything I see, but I actually own nothing, really.