On September 20, [2008,] I went canoeing down the Blackcreek River in Mississippi. The weather was perfect, and the river was calm and quiet.
All day long, there were these two egrets that were constantly in front of us. They rested in trees along the bank, until we almost caught up to them, and then they would fly a few yards downstream, to wait for us to come up again. No matter how swiftly or slowly we paddled, they were always there, leading us. We stopped for an hour to eat and swim, and when we got started again, they got back to guiding us again. It was so quiet, you could hear their wings. It seemed poignantly unreal, like a Chinese or Japanese poem, painting, or film.
Back home, I composed a mediocre English and (with Yuka’s help) a pretty good Japanese haiku.
Autumn, the river,
Egrets constantly guiding,
Leading us downstream
Shirasagi tomo ni