Won-ok and I were on our normal morning walk on Dec. 22, 2019, when we reached the earthen dam by the University Boulevard retention ponds. The sun was rising over Sligo Creek, the sky already a deep blue, and the temperature a gently warming 39 degrees. My wife and I love those ponds in part because we got married there – an intimate ceremony attended only by our closest human friends and family, and our kin from the world of nature. A drake was my best man, a gaggle of geese Won-ok’s bridesmaids.
I got lost in the art of shooting photos of our shadows towering over the ground below us, my mind drifting to that place where my subconscious is churning a thousand miles per hour while my conscious mind is as still as the ponds. I didn’t know that I was thinking about anything in particular – that a river of great memories from living along the Sligo Creek for the past dozen years was flowing right past me. I wasn’t aware of the countless pages of trail adventures I have written in my personal journal, or all the times I intended to pitch local newspapers and magazines story ideas about the magic of Sligo Creek.
Goosebumps suddenly shot across my arms, and my eyes popped open wildly.
I shared a ten-minute stream of consciousness idea with Won-ok, proclaiming that we should develop a multimedia website so that we could share our awe of, and love for, Sligo Creek and the Anacostia River Tributary Trail System. Our new passion project could combine her talents in photography and web design with mine as a writer and storyteller.
She loved it.
I did, too.
Unlike a bunch of other missions I chose not to take on over the past few years, I knew instantly that this was the one to accept. Sligo Creek has served as a third ventricle in my heart since the day I moved to Maryland; I’m never more grateful to be alive than when I’m hiking or biking along the trail and communing with the beauty of the natural world.
Knowing that we will live by Sligo Creek’s side for the rest of our lives, Won-ok and I threw ourselves into this project with abandon.
All that we lacked was a name for this site.
Destiny, or herondipity, delivered that to us on New Year’s Day 2020. We shared a tender moment with a great blue heron that morning, getting so close to her that we became spellbound when she cast a big yellow eye on Sligo Creek.
The “eye” in our name represents the one she trained on the creek that morning — and the eye that each and every one of us, human and wildlife alike, focuses on it every day. It also symbolizes the attention Sligo Creek so richly deserves.