Pelican Obsession

My kids and I continued to make lists of the small things that make our lives better. As this was day two of this quick write activity, and the seventh time I’d worked on this entry, it became more of a push for me to find things to add to my list and some of the most interesting possibilities came out of the session. So, tonight’s entry is about my obsession with pelicans.

We saw the pelicans, flying in a squadron formation, for the first time over the inlet between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. They were big birds, with a wing span large enough that they seemed to glide more than fly. To me, they appeared so calm, dignified, and steady in comparison to the clown-like gulls that swooped, dove, and chattered. Somehow, I couldn’t imagine a pelican standing at the foot of my chair, staring at me with a beady eye and  begging for chips on the beach! This immediately appealed to me.

Later, in a conversation with a tattoo artist- don’t ask- I learned the pelicans are some of the best mothers in the bird world. They’ll tear flesh from their own bodies to feed their chicks to keep them from starving. Talk about dedication! Calm and dedicated- both things I aspire to! And their less-than firm necklines don’t take away from that impression.

I am lucky enough to live on the mid-Atlantic coast, and cross a bridge tunnel complex every day on my way to and from school. Over that last few years, a small flock of pelicans has established itself in an inlet close to the tunnel. Many mornings I see my friends fishing, calmly skimming just above the surface of the water, taking care of business. Any time I spot one, I know I’m going to have a good day. I guess I have adopted the pelican as my personal totem.


3 responses to “Pelican Obsession

  1. First of all, I’m wondering about your process. Did you make a list about all you had noticed about pelicans? It turned out to be a very interesting post in which I learned much I did not know about this beautiful bird. Living in Ohio, I’m not privy to many pelican sightings — obviously. However, I have my own Ohio obsession, the heron. Your post may be just what I needed to figure out how to start writing about it.

    You have so many little phrases that I thought were so powerful:
    flying in squadron formation
    glide more than fly
    calm and dedicated
    less than firm necklines
    (also loved the comparison to seagulls and morning description)

    …and about that tattoo artist? ;o)


    • Your questions are really interesting and made me stop and think. I didn’t make a list of everything I know about pelicans, but I think that’s because it is truly one of those little things in my life and I’ve been gathering information for years and sticking that information in the nooks and crannies of my brain somewhere. I guess what we teach the kids is true- the best writing comes from inside you.

      I was born and raised west of Cleveland, Ohio- small world, no? And as for the tattoo artist, I actually went for my first tat with my son, shortly after his first child was born. I couldn’t decide, and the least amount of pain was high on my list of criteria!


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