The Lucky Heron

Story and photo by Gabrielle L. Wheeler

Just down the road from our house is a pond in an old cow field. No cows wander the grasses anymore and the abandoned barn hears no lowing. The pond however does not cease to support life and as we passed by it the other day a great blue heron stood at attention on the furthest shore. Catching sight of the tall, gray bird, my daughter asked, “Mommy, are herons good luck?” I haven’t heard that one before but as I turned to look, I saw the stately figure in the water and behind it a rainbow arched across the cloudy sky.

I guess the answer to my daughter’s questions depends on what kind of luck you are searching for and what kind of gold you are hoping is in that pot at the end of the rainbow. For me, abundant picturesque wildlife and greenery that gives us fresh air is something I consider lucky to have. There are many places in the world wracked by war or lack of education and the decimation of the natural environment is alarming and disheartening. If I consider it lucky to be free to travel around the countryside without fear of bodily harm and even being prosperous enough to own a private vehicle, then yes, seeing that heron is luck.

I think I am lucky to live in the Finger Lakes Region. Though at times it has seemed like the area I live in is lacking in employment options, other times I hear tourists exclaim that they would love to live with all of our natural beauty. There are times in which I have traveled far away but something always calls me back. I was surprised at my homesickness for New York and the region around the lakes when I lived abroad with the Peace Corps. If you consider it lucky to live by the beautiful lakes and rolling hills I pass every day on my way to work, then my pots overflow with luck. Or if you consider small-town living a lucky charm, then yet again I live at the end of the rainbow. I don’t take for granted the connections I have made nor the many wonderful friends that seem to be a part of this place. That is luck, is it not?

We left the heron to its hunting and the rainbow to the clouds and went home to our woods, but my daughter’s question has remained with me: does seeing a heron mean I am lucky? I can’t help but think I am.

Gabrielle Wheeler is a freelance writer from the heart of the Finger Lakes Region. On her parenting blog,, she writes about tending to the whole child and parent. She also works in a local health center as an interpreter/patient navigator.

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