Back Creek is a meandering little stream that seems to be of small consequence. Its headwaters are on the other side of Mbrook Road and it flows through town with little attention from the public. If you drive through town, you cross it…but, I’m guessing no one ever gives it much thought. It passes through the lower end of the farm…winding back and forth between the willow trees. Then, it winds its way out toward the mountains where it joins the Middle River. The Middle River meets the North and South Rivers forming into the South Fork of the Shenandoah at Port Republic. Then the South Fork and the North Fork join near Front Royal becoming simply the Shenandoah ….and flow into the Potomac at Harpers Ferry…which flows into the Chesapeake Bay and then into the Atlantic Ocean… wow!
Sorry…I lost focus.
One of the things we rejoiced over when finding this piece of property all those years ago was “live water”. When buying/building a homestead, you want a dependable source of water. When you find a stream, particularly a spring-fed stream, you are almost certainly guaranteed water…no matter what the circumstances. (or so that is the theory) Back Creek has a reputation for NEVER having run dry. While I honestly can’t attest to NEVER (we’ve only been here for a short period by community standards) I can say that while we have seen it low…oh so very low…we have not seen it dry. We have also seen it flood its banks in no uncertain terms…but, that is a story for some other time.
The herons seem to favor Back Creek. I cannot imagine the fishing is all that good, but maybe they like the rural setting. Maybe the winding path of the creek makes for an interesting flight. Perhaps they like cows and sheep…and the occasional goat. Maybe they find life in M’brook as pleasant as all the residents do.
Over the past fifteen years, we’ve seen the herons repeatedly. They’ve frightened the sheep...hung out with the neighbors goats, and been spotted under the willows. We’ve seen them in the distance, gliding along like some odd leftover pterodactyl from some prehistoric era.
One day, I tracked him down the creek under the willows until he finally disappeared into the weeds and brambles. I really…REALLY…wanted to get a shot of this bird in flight.
Then, as I was walking down the lane to the mailbox, I heard an odd noise. “CR-O-NNN-K!” I was startled as I then heard sweeping wings and the heron flew from UNDER the bridge. It went swooping down the creek…all too sudden for me to take a picture. I nearly fell off the bridge in my surprise. But, it was an awesome sight nonetheless.
The quarter-mile walk to the mailbox generally yields some kind of interest. Yesterday was no exception. Again I heard the “CR-O-NNN-K!”… This time I was rewarded with TWO blue herons flying right at me. I started talking to myself. “camera, camera….QUICKLY!...” One veered off and went downstream while the other flew overhead…his long legs stick-straight behind him. He/she landed by the creek where it flows through the front of the farm.
Oddly enough, this may be the same heron we saw all those years ago. They live for quite a long time. This may be the great blue heron couple of M’brook. There are definitely two. Maybe they will take up residence under the willows. I don't think the farm will benefit from the herons living by the creek, but, I don't suppose we will have to worry about being attacked by minnows.