Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Canticle for the Lost and Bold

Pardon me: are you searching for something?

Lost may be defined conversationally:
"Do you know where you are?"
"Do you know where you're going?"
"Do you know how to get back to where you came from?"
"Do you have a plan for where to go next?"
"Do you know your current course and speed?"
"What bearing would you like to stay on?"
"How far are you traveling?"
"What time do you plan to arrive at your intended destination?"
"Did you bring enough supplies and fuel for your journey?"
Bold, as used herein:
Striking out without fear.
Braving the unknown.
Facing the unlikely.
Being in the minority.
Withstanding difficulty, hardship, hunger, lack of water.
Seeking out the new.
Staring up at the sky when commonsense might dictate that you pay attention elsewhere.
A lack of familiar companionship.
Heading directly, and purposefully, into an unknown land, to find out what's there.
Open for whatever may come, and ready for it.
Curious as to what the next  moment holds.

Pelican on the Arizona Canal, my first

Canticle, as in A Canticle for Leibowitz (a favorite book from long ago): a song or poem, of praise or worship.

I think this pelican must be really, really lost. He's a long way from the coast. Unlikely to find familiar food, or a mate, sitting on the bank of the Arizona Canal. I wanted to stick around to see if he attempted to scoop up a white Amur catfish, which are as big as he is. Is he perhaps a juvenile, blown far off course by monsoon storms (a news search turns out that this happens more often that I thought)? In that case, I am particularly hopeful for his mating and feeding prospects, as the Amur may be easily taken by surprise, and the female (or male) egrets and geese that hang around might work. Who knows, peligrets? Geesicans? I was rooting for him (or her).

I watched him a few moments and thought of the times I've been off course, out of my element, sitting beside a strange river or trail, rolling down some unknown road, plotting out the next steps. Lost, perhaps, but still bold. Sometimes, according to the news stories I found, they ship these wayward Arizona monsoon pelicans to San Diego for care and release. Which, if he's hungry and dehydrated would certainly help, although if he works out the whole Amur-feeding and egret-mating deal, might not be something he's in a big hurry for. I doubt it, of course. But I'm pulling for him anyway.

Most of the time, if we went strictly by the probabilities and the un-bold move, nothing interesting would much happen. So, yes, he is a pelican. But he's got a canal full of fish right there in front of him. Maybe, just maybe, he could stay a short while. Make enough of a living to tell the relatives about back home. Frankly, I doubt it. But he finds himself right here, right now. Whatever happens next won't come from the pelican manual of standard operational procedures. Blown off course by a storm. Hundreds of miles to the nearest coast. Hungry. Phoenix in July. What next, my brown feathered buddy? I don't know, and I may never find out, but I'll keep my eyes wide open, looking up and around, searching the canals for signs of what happened next. It will be written.



  1. Go, pelican, go. May you live a long and prosperous-fish-gulping life.

    1. With feet like that, I think he's got miles left in him.

  2. It's looking a bit confused there.
    Any fish markets around?

    1. There's a sushi place around the corner, and a Pete's Fish and Chips down the street. I hope he found his way to one of those.


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