Herman knows what he wants, and he has the tools to get it.

In the Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote: “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

I sit here watching a master of patience practice his craft. The sun is new in the sky, and the waters of the Assawoman Bay calmly roll in to reach morning high tide in our lagoon. Herman is standing calmly yet focused on his morning ritual. I am fairly sure that Herman never read Sun Tzu, but he clearly and instinctively understands the value of patience as the best way to achieve his goal.

I am not even sure he is named Herman; I just know that is the moniker that was attached to him by Nick, my neighbor. Herman is a Blue Herron that lives in our marina. The neighbors share tales of Herman’s legend. “There was this one time he caught a four foot snake and swallowed it whole.” “Another egret tried to move into our cove and Herman got all vicious and chased him out.” The neighbors watch Herman with the regularity of a bayside reality show. And I would note that Herman is not only a supreme hunter, but he is the only regular resident who has escaped the Home Owner Association dues.

Back to my point. Herman is standing on the cross beam of a broken dock at the wooded side of the cove. He is unfazed by the momma duck and her two children that swim by. He certainly could care less that I am watching him as I type into my iPad. He only knows that the morning sun has illuminated enough of the shallows to give him visibility. He can, I assume, see about a foot below the surface of the water.

His shadow is long on the pier behind him. It is still. His shadow does not betray his position to the prey beneath. The fish swim past unaware that their numbers will diminish by one. Their fate is in the hands of Herman’s desire for nourishment. He alone will decide the moment of attack. “That one is to far left, that one is too deep. When one of adequate size swims in my zone, I will eat,” Herman resolves without movement.

He waits. He knows his plan. He has tested his skill before. He concentrates. He waits. The seagull flying close to him is not a distraction. The gentle ripples in the water’s surface do not seem to matter. His sights are set. He waits.

I wait. A sip of coffee. The gentle smell of salt air. A moment to myself.

Suddenly, without warning… With lightning speed, he plunges his long slender beak into the water and retracts. He comes up empty.

He flies to the other side of the lagoon, and lights on a neighbor’s dock. He stretches his neck casting a long shadow on the water’s surface. He looks up and down the bay. I have seen this before. He is regrouping. He will momentarily return to his post, but he needs a moment to shake off the defeat.

I am walking inside to pour a second cup of coffee.

I am back. He is back on the broken dock.

We wait again.

As I am finishing my second cup of coffee, he moves. In a flash of movement, he darts his head into the water. He is successful. He has captured his morning meal. He downs his prey as I down my final sip of coffee.

All of his learned skills proved victorious. Among them, knowing when to act and how to do so with confidence resulted in a good morning for Herman, but certainly not for the fish. I guess Herman never read any books on Win-Win philosophy, but that is for another day.

Thought for Aug 23, 2013

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

Abraham Lincoln

Thought for July 24, 2013

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

-Albert Einstein

“Mentalist” Definitions… just in case you asked.

men•tal•ist n.
1. a person who believes in or advocates mentalism.
2. a mind reader or fortune-teller.

men•tal•ism n.
1. Parapsychological activities, such as telepathy and mind reading.
2. The belief that some mental phenomena cannot be explained by physical laws.

Thought for July 17, 2013

“My audience was my life.

What I did and how I did it, was all for my audience.”

-Cab Calloway