Advance Notice

Yesterday’s trails took me down to Lake Hancock just as the sun heralded in a new day. There are few better places in the world to be, I suspect, at that time of the morning and in the hours that I was there I don’t believe I saw more than five people along the way.

The early morning sounds and smells, the freshness of the gentle breeze at lake’s edge, and the underlying belief that I was doing something healthy, all blended together to get the weekend off to a wonderful start.

All the usual suspects were in attendance; alligators, herons, osprey, egrets, anhingas, and even a lone bald eagle on a distant tree along the shoreline.

My soft footsteps paralleled the shoreline for fear that a broken twig might interrupt some creature’s quiet time. And so I got to witness breakfast time for several of them without them even knowing I was close by.

The images at the end of this blog show two different Great Blue Herons with their catch and a Great Egret with his. I hope you enjoy!

All of these birds are prolific killers. They stalk and kill their prey with amazing success rates and they are intriguing to watch. Unfortunately in the watching, you also have to have a reasonably strong stomach because they can be amazingly vicious in making sure that the fish are dead before they attempt to swallow them.

Some of it was very hard to watch and I only included the softer images with this blog.

Depending upon your perspective, yesterday’s events would have triggered different headlines. “All you can eat buffet at shoreline edge!” reads the Heron Daily Express. “Mass murder at Lake Hancock” reads the Fish Daily News.

Yesterday was not a good day to be a fish. In fact, I can’t imagine that there are many good days to be a fish. On my next life, if they say I am coming back as a fish, I am going to ask to be one in an aquarium at the dentists.

As I drove away, the whole experience made me revisit a thought that I have had several times before. That, of the whole finality of life and the often sudden departure that we make from it.

Barring the thought that one of these fish was a kamikaze fish, there is no way any of these guys knew that their lives would come to such an abrupt end yesterday morning. They were just going about their business; doing what they had done many times before. After their bowl of cereal, soft-boiled egg on toast, and cup of black coffee, they folded their copy of the Fish Daily News under their little arms and headed off to work.

As the kids got on the bus and headed off to school (yes, I am using that pun deliberately) they had no idea that yesterday was the last day they would ever see each other again.

It all serves to remind us that there is rarely an advance warning on when we will die. We will die. There is no doubt. We can attach great fear to that moment if we wish, or we can just embrace it as part of a process. I choose the latter.

Don’t get me wrong … I don’t want to die. But unless I discover Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth sometime soon, I will go the way of all before me and all after me. And that’s OK.

But the real question is to what degree do our lives run on the assumption that there will always be a tomorrow?

How much of our affairs are in order and what degree of mess do we leave behind for others to take care of after we are gone? Like almost everyone I know, I not only have a bucket list of things that I hope to do before I die, but I also have so many loose ends behind me that I shudder at the thought of my loved ones having to deal with it.

Things – actual things, stuff, unfinished projects, unpainted rooms, leaky pipes, and wobbly widgets. They are all irrelevant. They will all either be dealt with or discarded after we are gone. No one on their deathbed lies there wishing he just had enough time to paint that one room.

So I choose to concern myself with the people in my life. Taking care of those who depend on me and making sure that those whom I love know that they are loved.

At the end of the day those are the thoughts that I do not want to haunt me on my deathbed.

OK enough said … coffee and cereal are finished. Just folding the newspaper under my arms and heading off into my brand new day!

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