The pelican is a bird of disproportionate meaning to me.
When I was at Cal, I edited The Pelican, which during my years (and probably only during my years) attempted to be a “New Journalism” type of magazine with serious non-fiction, poetry and fiction. (At its inception, through most of its history, and probably today, it has tried, usually without success, to be the West Coast’s answer to the Harvard Lampoon.)
The pelican’s revival along the California coast has, along with the dolphin’s, signalled that aggressive environmental protections make a difference. (I’m an enviro-optimist. I like to think when you pass laws to limit pollution, the laws’ advocates should stop once in awhile and say: “See? Wasn’t that worth it?”)
It’s also hard not to relate to a bird that is uglier than the ugly duckling, and yet flies with such stately insouciance and grace. Actually, the relaxed pelican could not be less like the frantic hummingbird — except in silhouette:
Usually pelicans travel in flocks but this one patrolled a cove off Catalina alone and didn’t seem to want any fishing buddies.
These two banked against the stiff breeze at Hurricane Gulch, at LA Harbor, making it look easy to fly against a wind that knocked the cap off my head repeatedly.