Sunday, May 22, 2016

south of Olha

I watch a flock of pelicans, some two dozen strong, lift and freefall across the waters of the lake. Something about the physics of flight - a half-remembered discourse on wind-shear and turbulence - comes back to me. As massive as they are, these big white birds are as unperturbed by the incessant wind as we landlocked bipeds are buffeted by it.

The prevailing southeasterly is their ribbon of highway. Wingtip to wingtip they curlicue, rising and soaring with the up-gusts, swooping low and skimming the choppy surface with the down-drafts. Wordlessly, perfectly choreographed, in innate unison, the flock coasts as a single being. Meanwhile, on land, we strain against the gusts and struggle to even talk to each other over the gale forces.

A remarkable bird is the pelican. Its beak can hold more than its belly can. It can hold in its beak enough food for a week, but I really don’t know how the hell it can.

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