Grey Heron Nights 6: Old Crane Woman flies a true heading

Wind, now — that’s a different kind of chaos altogether. Old Crane Woman knows about wind. Nothing like wind for blowing you off course.

Old Crane Woman knows about flying. I’ll tell you about flying, girl, Old Crane Woman says. And she does.

In the beginning, there’s a course, Old Crane Woman says. That’s the straightest line on the map. That’s the direction you need to go in, to get to the place you want to get to. So off you go, and you point yourself at that place; away you fly, straight and true. You don’t shift for anyone, or anything; you know exactly what you’re doing. So you fly and you fly, but somehow you never arrive at that place you were pointing at. Do you know why? I shake my head, and Old Crane Woman shrieks. Because of the wind, girl! Because of the wind!

Old Crane Woman knows about wind. I’ll tell you about wind, she says. And she does.

There’s always a wind, Old Crane Woman says. Sometimes there’s a tailwind, blowing you on. Sometimes there’s a headwind, holding you back. But more often than not, there’s a crosswind. What do you do then, girl? Old Crane Woman shrieks. What do you do then? You adjust your heading, Old Crane Woman says, to make sure you stay on course. A true course might be the direction you want to go in, but a true heading is the way you point to get there.

Think of the river, girl, Old Crane Woman says. Think of the river. You want to swim across a fast-flowing river to get to the bank directly opposite you. If you point yourself at that bank and swim, what will happen to you? You’ll be swept downriver by the current, that’s what. So to get yourself to your destination, you have to swim away from it. Point yourself upriver, and swim for your life. And if you’ve adjusted carefully for the river’s flow, you’ll end up exactly where you needed to be.

Old Crane Woman knows about currents; Old Crane Woman knows about flows. Old Crane Woman knows that the straightest route to your destination isn’t always to point yourself straight at it.

Look — Old Crane Woman is flying. She’s made all the mistakes; she’s been blown off course more times than she can count. But now Old Crane Woman is flying a true heading.


7 thoughts on “Grey Heron Nights 6: Old Crane Woman flies a true heading

  1. Oh I love these too. There was a hint of playfulness in this one that added to the charming tale. Old Crane Woman is a very clever and wise old bird, and would make for a good friend indeed. 🙂 ❤


  2. Thought I would share my heron story with you….

    I called it Breath on the window

    I survey

    Forested horizon with vastness of sky aloft,
    an unclipped wilderness of hedging below


    Closer in
    The great grey heron settles
    on the wooden beam that spans the crumbling garden wall


    And now




    Leaves cartwheel from the ash tree at the end of the garden
    expelled by a sudden gust

    That wind whistle comes through the conservatory
    Door just ajar
    Letting out the heat and
    Letting in the world

    The great grey heron flies

    I exhale


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