Something I Want to Tell You

 By Jane Chang Chen (7/22/03)

 I came back to south Florida.

 The narrow two-way road where I used to stop for the passing ducklings has expanded to a six-lane busy street cutting through the dairy farm. Where are the cows? What happen to the great white egrets that flocked with the cows?

 The great white egrets (Casmerodius albus) are the most beautiful birds I have ever seen. Their spear like yellow beaks and their dreamy heads wed with their long and slender necks coiled like the letter S. When they have their wings folded, they look like haunch backed brooding old men. When they have their wings spread, and glide gracefully above the lake, they look like angels. When their twiggy yellow legs with their webless feet wade in the shallow water, hunting for crabs, frogs, lizards, fish and snakes, they act like skillful hunters, accurate and swift. When they call out, their deep guttural croak sounds like grunting. When they stand, they are about three feet tall. When they spread their wings, they are about five feet wide. At night they congregated on trees, often near the water. In the daytime, they are not shy. They often ride on the back of cows or wander along the roadside, staring at the passing huge noisy metal automobiles.

 In the winter they all come to south Florida, hundreds of them, flying in flocks. In a steaming summer day like this, they might have gone north. But I want to find them. I want to see them. They are one of the reasons calling me back to south Florida, month after month.

 At dust I drove along Palm Avenue (SW 100th) in Broward County. In the northeast corner of Palm Avenue and Taft Street, along the canal, up on the trees, a few dozens of the great white egrets just settled for the night. Like white doves decorating a Christmas tree, they looked serene.

 They are still here. The great white egrets are still here!