25 May 2007

Truth Be Told

A feature of my mythology when I lived in Oakland was the superstition that if I saw a pelican on Lake Merritt in the morning the day would be full of magic and good fortune. I don't remember how the belief first came to me.

Lake Merritt is reportedly one of the major North American hangouts for water fowl. Geese predominated but ducks, cranes, egrets, gulls, and many others whose names I don't know were also abundant and ever-present.

The pelicans appeared less frequently. On a walk along the lake, I would sense something large overhead and look up to see one or two or three brown pelicans gliding silently in large circles. With their great wing spans and pterydactyl beaks, they looked prehistoric, out of place/time. I marveled at how little actual wing-flapping it took to keep such a large bird airborne. Then one of them would splash-crash down to catch breakfast. Efficient, elegant hunting that still came off comic somehow.

Yesterday morning I was driving along US 90. A clear, beautiful day. Crews have made tremendous headway on the beach: it's much less cluttered and devastated now. Between here and Biloxi a couple of beach businesses have opened in the last month and each weekend there are more people playing on the beach. I'm shopping for a beach umbrella. Something special...

The wind was high yesterday. For the first time since moving here, I saw tiny whitecaps in the Gulf. Though nothing comparable to the great surging yawn and hiss of the Pacific, the Mississippi Sound (I'm told Gulfport does not sit on the Gulf of Mexico proper) was "chattering". I felt refreshed and energized and happy and whole, driving along with all the windows down. Mini-dunes were forming on the road. This was a new face of Gulfport.

Returning from my errand, sensing something large overhead, I looked up to see a quintet of pelicans flying in easy formation above me. I was delighted!! A first sighting in Mississippi. Even as an exhilarated grin broke across my face, I spotted another flock! Perhaps 10 or 11 of them flying over the water. An irresistible urge to be with all of This washed through me. I stopped the car and ran across the sand to the water's edge. I was still wearing my pajamas. The wind whipped my oversize sweater and baggy pj bottoms against my body. Sun, wind, surf, sand....bare feet...nowhere I have to be... This is affluence.

And I think I know how my superstition started: the good feeling that Morning, Water and Pelicans bring me transforms the world. It looks and feels different to me. It becomes a land of miracles that happens to be my Home.


  1. Beautiful Sighting.... It's so nice at Lake Merrit now that the wild geese who stop on their travels are now staying all year around, to the consternation of the City!

  2. Uhhhhhhh...... esp in light of the many, many times I'VE said the "wrong" thing or innocently offended with questions or comments..... is yr NOT giving me the email acct you DO use a message in itself?

  3. Your in good fortune then, the brown pelican is very common on the gulf coast, and is the Louisiana state bird.


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