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Trouble in Cedar Key: The crack of dusk

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By Gene Benedict

It was almost evening, the air was cool. A light rain had settled in after lunch. It had rained for about three hours, puddles had formed here and there. The soil was dampened enough to knock down the dust, allowing the green to come up from the soil.

The breeze dropped down and swung around from the northeast. A chop with small waves was on the water, to the south and west; the tide was on the wane. Odors from the exposed flats wafted in from behind. That familiar, pungent, almost sweet smell of the marshes at low tide.

Traffic was light, non-interfering. The sight and sounds of sundown were about, dominating. Behind layers of low clouds, the sun shown through now and then.

Small, long waves curled the spit, gurgling over the shells, and rocks, on their way up the shore. They were breaking, falling back on the incoming water. Mild splashing, shells rolling over themselves, tinkling, rattling, as they fell back onto the next wave.

The sky, the air, took on a tan and orange hue. A couple of ospreys passed overhead, each screeching, and searching for that higher note, never quite getting there. Along, with a loose formation of ibises passing over from behind, heading for their night's roost.

A couple of plovers and some large wading birds were poking their beaks into the sand on a recently exposed shelf that was left behind by the receding tide.

Nearby, several small sanderlings, and pipers, worked the shelf more hurriedly, peeping as they moved, hind ends hoisted to the sky as beaks went down.

A white heron, with her long black legs and toes extended toward the shelf, came in to land among the wading birds. She flared to land with a "wauk..., wauk..., wauk," issuing a warning to others to make room. They did.

As if by magic, a crack opened, rapidly, suddenly, in front of the sun. For a few moments, all were bathed in that yellow, red, orange, and tangerine glow.

The white heron took on the color of her cousins, the roseate spoonbills; she was prancing in the glow, raising her feet high, one at a time, that long yellow beak, spiked regally to the front.

Just as suddenly, the glow was gone. The crack closed without making a sound. Pipers flew off to somewhere, as did the plovers in another direction. The heron, now a dark, muddy brown color, poked around a few moments longer, then flew off. Again with that "wauk..., wauk...,wauk."

The crack had closed, all color was gone. That magical moment was over. It was time to go, to roost , to meditate, to pray, and to retire. Time to go home...

Email me at tnckgebe@yahoo.com