A heron beak-feeds its paltry catch of fish to a dolphin stranded in shallow waters.
what you will think; you will think that sentence must be wrong. I've
got my wires crossed or that I suffer from some form of dyslexic
size-ism, for surely everyone knows a dolphin's mass is considerably
larger than that of a heron, and that a heron would never consent to
such a belittling task. It's unimaginable! Unthinkable! Well,
apparently not for I conceived of it and I've seen evidence of it too
with my very own bespectacled eyes!
to me first in a dream – the idea and the image - whereby I paid it
no heed other than thinking I had a most unusual imagination of Lewis
Carroll proportions. In other planes of existence, I often dream the
impossible, the improbable, the unlikely: English-speaking British
Blue cats whom I hold regular conversations with on London buses;
boarding pirate ships that traverse the night sky like rockets; and
finding washed-up chests of bottled imps, all of whom stubbornly
refuse to grant either good or evil. So you see, it wasn't
extraordinary for me to dream of such a thing as recurring reveries
of this nature are quite common.
this time the picture stuck in my inner mind as it reeked of deja vu,
stank to high heaven of repeated familiarity, which oddly made me
feel like the white stick that candy floss is wrapped around: numb to
all sensations, dead to irrelevant sensory information. The outer
world muffled, and my head, apart from that probed spot, packed with
cotton wool; the one functioning blob switched on like a Christmas
tree light or as if it had been struck with a lit match, the sugar
its soaked in set aflame. Neutrality is never an option at this
attempts to remain impartial were in vain, and believe me, I tried to
forget, but the huge heron of my dream was haunting...I even tried to
dream of it again, but could not, and yet its image loomed large in
my wakeful mind, hovered over everything like how a Phoenix might
rise from ashes. I could not grasp from whence it had come from as I
did not believe my mind could own such a vision – it must have been
planted- and therefore I must discover the reason it had chosen me.
where to start?
heron was not like any I had ever seen. No natural history book
contained the likes of its image nor did the museum. Its feathers
were a dazzling multitude of ocean blues and seaweed greens and its
scale was in-between an emu and a pterodactyl; appearing
peacock-like, but with extra height and far less plumage. Yet none of
my research quite matched what I'd beheld and I found no archived
reports of any herons – average-sized or super-sized - feeding
dolphins, in fact quite the reverse, but then dolphins are known to
have a generous spirit, whereas it's rare for birds to feel
duty-bound to a water-based mammal.
made little progress in the ordinary book-learning, fact-finding way,
I decided that my next course of action would be to head to the
coast, and as luck would have it I had already planned a trip to
Bournemouth some months ago which seemed as good a starting place as
any, especially as any decision on my part would have only resulted
in further delay.
I set like a modern day Dick Whittington only travelling in the
opposite direction and not on foot, but by train with more luggage
than was necessary: an overfilled beige handbag and a half-empty, yet
surprisingly heavy dark grey holdall.
arrival, my first port of call was the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and
Museum who I'd heard were exhibiting a William de Morgan collection;
this chap I was very much interested in and it was there among his
artefacts housed on the lower ground that I found exactly what I'd
seen: a tile design that precisely captured my dream and which I took
as further proof of the heron's existence for how could two unrelated
persons with many years in-between share the same vision? Held before
my eyes I comprehended its symbolism as an enlightened Freud might
have done: the dolphin is I and the towering heron is a guide.
Picture Credit: Heron and Dolphin, William de Morgan, 19th-20th Century