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Lessons from a pelican

I’m sitting beside a neat little canal that runs off the Everglades. The sliver of water is at the moment serving as a runway. A brown pelican I’ll call Fred zooms above the canal and then dives headfirst into the water, first just off to my right. After coming up either victorious or empty-handed (empty-mouthed?), Fred processes the moment and then heads off to my left to repeat his short flight. And in about 45 seconds he’ll be heading back right again.

I watched Fred do this yesterday, all afternoon, back and forth. Fred’s hungry so he’s taking care of business. It’s hard work, exhausting even to watch. I wonder if Fred ever starts out his day feeling overwhelmed, as we sometimes do in our grief or otherwise. But Fred just keeps diving, one splashdown at a time, with an effort I can only admire.

I was still out there last night around dark when he got out to perch on the edge of the canal, preening, opening his wings to dry out, settle down. Fred looked content.

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