The word “manna” is not-so-often used in twenty-first century Texan-speak. But this age-old word is one of my favorites to visualize.
A professor of the Hebrew language taught me that many folk would define this word in terms of the miraculous food provided to the Israelites, during those very difficult years of wandering about the desert (that famous story of the Exodus from Egypt).
And so folk-of-today might guess at a definition for manna to be: miracle food, gifted from the Creator. But this professor also shared a more basic definition that should be understood. Manna is a word that may simply mean: What is it?
Now friends and family know that Mother Nature “gifted” me with a sense of humor that delights in wondering about what I’ll call “orthogonal views” to commonly held concepts. (While at the same time never wanting my sense of humor to hold even a hint of ugliness or disrespect; and unfortunately, at times, my shared humor has caused me to show symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease)
With this “gifted” sense of humor, I have my own personal (and respectful) visual image of that age-old desert wandering. I like to visualize large to-go bags of Tex-Mex food being dropped down onto those tired and hungry nomads. As the Tex-Mex food is unwrapped and opened, those hungry humans gather around and call out: “Manna? (What is it?)”
And the answer by those closest to the miracle-drop is quite obvious: “We don’t know, but it sure-does smell GOOD!”
And so my imagery of this miraculous Tex-Mex food came to mind while on a recent birding trip to Rollover Pass, on the Bolivar Peninsula.
It seems I happened onto a spot that a fisherman vacated, leaving behind the remains of his expensive fresh-shrimp bait. And surprisingly, the gulls were not the first to find it.
A Ruddy Turnstone, wandering about the shoreline, came upon this shrimp. I swear that Turnstone looked at the shrimp, and then looked right up at me and said: “What is it?”
And of course I replied, “Try it, you may like it.”
The Turnstone walked around the shrimp, looking hard at it, and then I swear looked right back up at me and said: “No really, Manna?”
I just quietly chuckled and said: “Try it, you may like it.”
And the rest of the pictures best tell what this Ruddy Turnstone did with this gifted delicacy. This manna was devoured in that same way that most Texans eat fried shrimp, including one particular closed-eye expression of epicurean pleasure.