A couple of hours of looking through old photos of the non-digital sort yielded two photos of the blackbirds whose sunset flights were described in this poem. In these photos, they have not yet gathered into the chains they form to fly to the cornfields between Chapala and Guadalajara. Here they are just lifting out of the acres of cattails that rimmed the lake back when it was shrinking in size. This is just one wave of birds. After it lifted, there would have been another and another—tens of thousands of birds—as I recall, some yellow-winged and some red-winged blackbirds. In the years since then, the lake has thankfully come up to its original banks, as at the time I moved here in 2001 there were places in which you had to take a taxi from the pier to get out to the lake. It was estimated that the lake would be totally gone within five years, but luckily people banded together to save it. I’m glad to have the lake restored and there are still thousands of white pelicans as well as numerous egrets and herons and other birds, but I do miss those glorious swells of blackbirds.
(If you want to see the birds, you need to click on photos to enlarge them.)
Night lifting of blackbirds from the cattails .
Snowy egrets still abound lakeside.
Thousands of white pelicans winter at the lake, then and now.
Blackbirds flocking to fly to the cornfields between Chapala and Guadalajara. And to the trees in town plazas.
I’ve been at the beach for three weeks now and seen nary a pelican. Magnificent frigate birds we’ve seen in abundance, but no pelicans. Then, when I finished writing my blog early this morning, a mysterious unsigned message appeared as a comment: “The peligans are back.” Spelling aside, I ran out to see the scene shown below—banks of pelicans soaring in, others resting on the waves, others on the offshore rock and moored boats and floats. You might guess that a poem evolved. You’d be right. Photos follow.
Return of the Pelicans
The pelicans come soaring in, completely at their ease to settle on the empty waves wherever they may please. They do not ask permission after being gone so long. They don’t amuse with antics. They do not offer song. We do not know where pelicans have kept themselves for weeks when we were looking for them, taking furtive peeks outside our doors, off terraces, and from our cafe chairs. We missed their stretched-out funny bills. We missed their derrieres.
We have missed their diving prowess and their flying in a chain.
We missed their grumpy countenances. Missed their bland disdain.
So now that they are back with us, perching on our boats, messing up our launches, defiling our floats,
we’d like to issue them a welcome, but they do not like the fuss.
It puzzles them, because they feel ambivalent towards us!
When we sailed through the colossal bifucated stone split into the secret cove on Candelabra Island in Peru, we could not help but feel like we were intruders in this little paradise filled with thousands of cormorants, blue-footed boobies, pelicans, seals, crabs, terns, seagulls, pelicans and other huge flocks of birds that settled on the jagged rocks around the quayside structure where tons of bird guano was loaded up and sold to a lucrative market every 5 years. The birds, however, watched seemingly unperturbed from their vantage point high above on the jagged rocks. (The italicized words are the prompt words we were given to choose between. This photo series seems to demonstrate them all.)
Our girls’ dance class has metamorphosed into a kids’ yoga/self-awareness class. The girls seem to love it and we plan on adding a boys’ class as well. Cynthy, the 20ish teacher, is a bit of a kid herself and the perfect one to work with the children of our village.
I love the picture of this group of pelicans and gulls flying off after clearing the beach of the castoff fruits of the sea shed on the beach by fishermen clearing their nets.
This group of young boys from our summer camp mugging for the camera is one of my favorites. What sweet kids they are. Hope to repeat the experience this summer.
Please click on the first photo to enlarge all photos for viewing.
One morning I woke up and came out onto my porch to view this spectacle of the birds waiting to get the leftovers from the fishermen as they cleared their gill nets of small fish used for bait. They waited patiently until the men tossed the excess fish onto the sand and departed. Then this flutter and dance ensued.