Heron on a log boom with tiny fish in beak

Great Blue heron: model of resilience (click on photos to see details, including the catch)

When the power of peace-loving people around the world brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989, we rejoiced – never imagining that almost three decades later we’d see new walls being erected to separate and divide our human family. It’s a disturbing time, when anger, fear, hatred and lies seem so prominent that they’re almost starting to feel “normal”.

If we’re to make it through all this, we need to keep clear heads, understand and remember what’s important in the world, and take action to protect it…again, and again, and again. It could be a long and exhausting road – which means we will need major reserves of resilience, both personal and collective.

Towards that end, I think it could be useful to recognize and share some of the models of resilience that we each find in our lives.

heron with eel-like catchThe Great Blue heron in these photos is (at least so far) a survivor of humanity’s assaults on its habitat. It fishes alongside the creosoted pilings of a log sorting ground, with the thump, grind and squeal of boom boat engines, conveyor belts and sawmill blades for a soundscape.

The industrialized shoreline is a far cry from the dense forests and unpolluted mudflats that its heron ancestors knew – yet this bird manages to eke out a living here, one tiny fish at a time. As much as I’m appalled by what we’ve wrought to its home, I’m inspired by the bird’s resilience.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic: what inspires resilience for you? How can we help build and nurture each other’s resilience through these challenging times?

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

9 responses »

  1. […] Recognizing Resilience by Laurie MacBride. […]

  2. pattilee says:

    This is an important topic. I usually tolerate the winter well, embrace it and actually look forward to it. Not so, this winter. Stuck in the snow, too chilly, a string of colds, and a depressed immune system inspired, I think, by the election of Donald Trump and the fallout since then. As an activist, my innate optimism has been sorely challenged. However, I have the wonderful blessing of 2 little granddaughters (3 and 5) who live not too far from me. I spend a lot of time with them – they are very “be here now,” non-linear, inventive, smart, cuddly… They have been the rock of my resilience this winter. So, for them, I carry on the challenge to create and just and peaceful world. Patti Willis, Denman Island

    • Thanks for sharing this, Patti. I’ve been thinking of you often lately, especially with the number of power failures your area has had this winter. It has been a hard season for sure, and the political climate has taxed my normal stores of optimism too. So glad you are finding resilience through your granddaughters – they are a clearly a great motivating force to keep on caring and working for peace in the world. Take care, and hugs to you.

  3. Sherry Galey says:

    Blue herons are such glorious birds and your images are so textured and subtle and beautiful, Laurie. I am not feeling very resilient right now, I admit. Nature shows us the way and I seek to learn its lessons. Your blog is a real inspiration in that regard.

    • Thanks for this, Sherry, and I’m glad you find it helpful – as I find your photos and posts. You are not alone in feeling less than resilient these days – I share that and I think a lot of others feel similarly. Challenging times, in which we need to nurture each other’s resilience in every way we can. Let’s keep on finding joy in nature and seeing the good in the world, even as we speak out about the wrongs.

  4. Robin says:

    Wonderful and thought-provoking post, Laurie. I, too, have been pondering resilience in nature since I see it all the time around here, especially in birds who adapt to what humans have wrought. I have to agree with Fred. We certainly are ungracious guests. And, like you, I hope that we can someday learn how to live in peace with ourselves, with the planet, and with other beings on this planet.

  5. Fred Bailey says:

    Laurie:
    I savoured your eloquence. Thank you.
    As I become older. it becomes ever clearer to me that we humans are the one non-indigenous organism on this planet. Our combative nature, our greed and our willful blindness demonstrate that regularly. Our ungracious behaviour as guests on this planet betrays the simple reality that to save this planet is the only way we will save ourselves. Once we are gone the planet can repair itself. If only we can see how easy it is to live in harmony with both our environment and each other. Thank you for your wonderful photos.
    Fred

    • And thank you, Fred, for your thoughtful comments. I agree for the most part – though I do hold out hope that we can eventually reach a state of harmony without having to eliminate ourselves from the planet. I just hope we haven’t eliminated too many other species by the time that finally happens! 😦

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