Just after sunset and the clouds above Lummi are violet, rimmed with pink. The water of the delta mirrors the sky. There are three, five, no, fourteen herons walking step by deliberate step south along the flats, necks stretched straight. Every few minutes one falls on its face. They are not graceful hunters. Purple martins swoop overhead, fork-tailed silhouettes against the graying sky. They land on the nest boxes mounted high on the old pilings, then swing away and up again. The humans walking down the beach behind us are talking loudly about college Greek life. The martins ignore them. I try to do the same. An eagle wheels out from the trees, makes an aborted dive, and circles back. The sky and the water fade to gray. The island rises, massive and dark between them. The moon is a crescent from full. Herons lift off by ones and twos. When the sky is empty of swallows, we turn and walk home in the dark.
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