Fish Crane is a nickname that several old women, Pearlie and Martha, laughingly bestowed upon me over thirty-five years ago when I was administering a four parish Head Start program in rural Louisiana. Although I was not practicing yoga at the time, I had the lifelong habit of standing on one leg in a primitive form of Vrksasana. To Pearlie and Martha, I resembled an egret, what they called "fish crane." I liked my new name immediately!
Because I've always had an attraction to the graceful water birds that frequent the landscape of the coastal southeast, twelve years later, when I was looking for something to call the yoga props company I was about to start, "fish crane" kept coming to mind. Initially, I dismissed it as a bit strange, but as it continued to come I finally surrendered and began to search in the library for an appropriate logo. That's when I discovered that, over many millennia, waterbirds have been associated with spiritual transformation in a number of different cultures. At that point, "Fish Crane" felt just right for a yoga props company! Then, I lost the right to use the name when I sold the business in 2001.
Four years later, a month after Katrina, I took refuge in Grayton Beach, a small settlement nestled between two state parks on the Florida panhandle. Herons had appeared to me again and again at this spot over the 20 years I'd been visiting the area, and each time they seemed to be offering guidance and support from beyond this world. It was noteworthy enough that I often spoke of making my annual pilgrimage to Grayton Beach. After the storm, it seemed like a good place to sort things out over the three months I had before heading to Pune.
When I returned from India, I decided to set up a website and wanted a name that involved waterbirds. As I researched the various varieties of herons and egrets, I came upon one that particularly caught my attention- the great white heron. It's native to the Carribean islands and the southern part of Florida. And, it is frequently described as a solitary wanderer having been sighted as far away as New Mexico.
I, too, became a solitary wanderer after the storm, moving several times, traveling to a variety of communities to teach workshops, and studying in Pune annually. The real gift of being so mobile has been that yoga has become my true home, my refuge, not the actual place where I live. When I'm practicing, wherever I am, I am at home.
While I returned to New Orleans in 2010, I still enjoyed traveling and teaching out of town. Like the great white heron, it seemed to increasingly suit me to be a solitary wanderer.
Now, I find myself in New Mexico, just like the great white heron does from time to time, but, unlike the bird, I intend to stay. And, while I'll certainly return to teach in New Orleans from time to time, I my plans are to open a center in Taos, New Mexico during 2019.