”It looks,” she said, “like a pelican.” We were parked near the government wharf in the lovely little community of Mile’s Cove. You don’t know where Mile’s Cove is? It’s only five-minutes drive from Port Anson over an extremely bad road.
Now you’re going to tell me you have no idea where Port Anson is located, right? That’s what I thought. Let me enlighten you. Both Mile’s Cove and Port Anson are two little communities on Sunday Cove Island. Got it? No? Let me try again.
Sunday Cove Island is separated from the rest of us by a narrow tickle. A short causeway joins them together. It’s much better than rowing across, which is what they used to do in olden days.
Sunday Cove Island is only a dickspraddle from Long Island, and a rather short dick at that. The ferry ride to Long Island takes approximately five minutes. You don’t have to take the ferry, of course, if you’d rather swim.
I’m afraid I can’t help you any more than that. If you still don’t know the general vicinity in which we were parked, consider yourself ignorant.
Now, her statement struck me as rather strange because tropical birds of any kind are rather rare in the Mile’s Cove area, especially around the government wharf. Pelicans don’t hover in any large numbers around the beaches in early spring in any case.
Her husband, to my amazement, agreed with her.
“Yes,” he said, “very like a pelican.”
I was intrigued, especially since I couldn’t see anything at all. The car was parked in such a way that I couldn’t see where they were pointing. No way could I see this thing, fantastic or otherwise.
“I don’t see how you can miss it,” she said. “It has long legs and a big bill that keeps opening and closing.”
“Just like a pelican,” he added.
OH, who was driving, was having her 15-minute power nap as she usually does once or more when she’s driving. I didn’t want to wake her just so I could see this wonderful bird for myself. OH isn’t at her best when awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. I ought to know. To pass time, I recited this little rhyme from my childhood.
“A wonderful bird is the pelican; his beak can hold more than his bellycan.”
I thought I could spend a moment or two adding to this and finally came up with another line.
“He happily lunches on fishes, but never wipes off any dishes.”
My efforts were totally ignored.
“It’s still there,” she said after a moment, as though my little verse were an attempt to make it magically disappear.
“Yes,” he added, “still there.”
“Does it still look like a pelican? “
“Oh yes,” they said together. Both of these people grew up in fishing communities where turrs, gulls of every species from herring to saddlebacks, bullbirds and puffins were a common sight, so I knew they couldn’t be mistaking one of these for a pelican. They should also know that great blue herons do not frequent this part of the coast in late winter.
I thought a moment and then said, “Some woman in this place must be having a baby. I hope she’s expecting it.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“It’s obvious,” I said, trying hard not to be sarcastic, “that what you’re looking at is a stork.”
No one laughed or even smiled. I would’ve heard either.
“It’s still there,” she added, quite unnecessarily. This was getting curiouser and curiouser. I desperately wanted to see this thing for myself. Pelicans in Mile’s Cove? You might as well say there are virgins in the Playboy mansion. Not possible.
At about this time, OH arose from the sleep of the just. Before her eyes were fully open, I shouted, “TURN US IN A HALF CIRCLE, QUICK!”
“Shhh!” hissed the two in the back seat, simultaneously. “You’ll frighten it off.”
I had the feeling the only thing that would frighten off this particular fowl would be the boom from the resurrection guns. I assume there will be resurrection guns on the last day. Either that, or really heavy thunder.
Something’s got to make the horrific noise that will frighten the you-know-what out of the ungodly. Can’t wait to see them get their just desserts, myself (the ungodly, not the pelicans).
OH was startled, but recognized an emergency situation when she heard one. She had the van going and the wheels turning and the van twisting before anyone could say, “A wonderful bird Is the pelican.” I was certain the racket would drive whatever lost fowl was perched on the wharf back to Johnny Depp Land (the Caribbean, for you older types) from whence it came. I was getting prepared to be most upset.
“It’s still there, it’s still there!” If a sibilant whisper can also be a shout, they shouted — or whispered. Take your pick.
I strained my eyes to the utmost, but could see nothing. My eyesight is like my blood pressure — fit for a teenager — but nary a foreign fowl could I see.
“You can’t miss it,” he said. “You see those crab pots?” I did. “You see that patch of blue on the boat just above them?” I did. “You see those pieces of wood just above that?” I did, I really did.
“Well” — in that tone of voice the kindergarten teacher uses for an irritating child — “It’s pitched right on top of that wood! Its bill is even opening and closing, for Pete’s sake.”
I was tempted to lie through my teeth and say “I see it!”
Then OH spoke for the first time. “Would you be looking at that round buoy with the stick in it and a little flag waving on the top?”
The silence of the lambs was deafening compared to the silence in the back seat.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.