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Patricia flies with the herons

The following is Daniel Einstein’s statement at Patricia Pyle’s memorial service on March 1. Daniel and Patricia are both co-founders of the Olympia Coalition of Ecosystem Preservation, a non-profit group that formed last fall protect the only blue heron nesting site in Olympia’s city limits.

February 8

No herons yet. 🙁 but there are lots of frogs – they just started about four days ago. Our rabbit has a problem with his legs and he is the patient in the house now. Meanwhile, I feel like the patient taking care of the patient! I will be getting surgery very soon…   Patricia

Patricia was referring to her scheduled neck surgery. She never got to it.

The herons returned to their nest trees on Valentine’s Day—a day I will never forget. I never heard from Patricia again. I don’t know if she ever knew.

What I do know is that there would be no westside heronry if it were not for her. Few people knew the depth of her involvement in saving the heronry on Olympia’s westside, but she was our guide. She knew what to do, she knew whom to talk to and she knew how to talk to them. Her range swept in the whole City and a good part of the State. Every week she gave us a set of tasks. Soon a problem that seemed intractable became possible and then inevitable. She was our guide. I would not do Patricia justice if I did not tell you that in her mind she did so at some risk.

The first thing that anyone will tell you is that Patricia was smart, that she cared deeply for people and that she had a brilliant energy. She was alight with her love for nature, whether it was picking apples on the Columbia as a young woman or wading in the streams of our City. She was a scientist. She not only loved how the natural world worked, she understood how it worked, and politics was bred in her bone. Because of that it drove her crazy when what should be done, and what could be done, was not being done. From an early age, she was engaged in public speaking on behalf of the environment and always began her message with the words “listen world”.

Those who knew her will not be surprised that she left us a list of things yet to do. It is a long list and a seemingly impossible list, but we will get it done. May she continue to be our guide.

This is a poem titled “Garden Flight” by Paul Boeth:

In my garden,

My eyes are downcast,

Whether tilling the soil

Or admiring the beauty

That my effort has produced,

My eyes are earthbound.

But, like a scene from some mythology book,

A great shadow of a bird

Glides past me towards the west,

And I find myself forced to look skyward.

A nest-bound great blue heron floats

Effortlessly by;

My thoughts fly with it.

After Man has driven this great bird away,

Will I be complacent about its absence?

Will I chalk it up to progress?

When development has

Homogenized its nesting area,

What great shadow will lift my eyes to heaven?

How will I send my thoughts flying,

With no great birds to use as a guide?

The herons returned on Valentine’s Day. But the next weekend they were gone—nowhere to be found in the trees or on the shore. It was as though they were guiding her away from us. They have now come home again and our eyes turn to heaven.

Raven and Liam, may you always be able to look to the sky or see their shadows, and know that your mother has left us with a guide. Dennis, Rita and Cynthia (husband, mother and sister), may your grandchildren and great grandchildren see these birds and everything they stand for and always know that Patricia flies with them and guides us.

As for the rest of us, find something you are willing to do and do more. Find something that you think you can do and do more. Take risks. Listen World. Change our community and change the world.


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