I was the last nestling chick of my aging mother pelican. She was almost 30 years old, a near record and she knew she wouldn’t be around to see me mature. Sadly, she was quite sure that I wouldn’t. You see, my mother had stowed away on a ship that went to a country where some pretty serious chemicals are still used to spray for mosquitoes and other insect pests. It doesn’t kill pelicans but it did cause my shell to be very weak and it got a little crushed before I was born.
My mother thanked goodness that the one wish that is granted to all of Mother Nature’s creatures was still waiting to be used. Her life had been one of adventure and she had never wanted for anything. That is until I came along. I guess I was lucky but it doesn’t always feel like it. To be truthful, her wish may not have turned out the way she had thought it would. Since I was so much weaker than other pelicans, she only wished that I would live a protected life. She knew that raucous camaraderie might spell the end of me.
Oh boy, am I protected. I am also very lonely. You would be too if the only time you were allowed to venture out was at night when all of your would be friends or mates are out in the marshes sleeping off the day’s adventures.
Yes, I am as I look–a stone pelican by day. My life begins at sunset.
When the waking world heads off to sleep, I begin to feel my feathers soften ready for the safety of the dark. This is when I find my way to the sea along the moonlit Hammock roads.
Full moon nights are the best. I can pretend that it is daytime. Sometimes I see a pelican or two taking advantage of the moonlight for a little extra fishing time.
Mostly I am alone.
On warm summer nights from April to October I often see sea turtles making their way ashore to lay their eggs.
Sometimes I see the sea turtle hatchlings struggling to make their way to the sea before being gobbled up by other birds and crabs that also make their homes on the beach. I feel an affinity for them even though they surely could not be the recipients of Mother Nature’s only granted wish. With each mother turtle laying 50 to 100 eggs you know that the wish a mother might have used to protect one of her young was used up long, long ago.
Nighttime, as you can see, is not a safe time for all of Nature’s creatures. There will always be hunters and the hunted. I understand it is the way of the world. My own Hammock home is a good place to stay away from in the dark.
Some are not as wise or as fortunate to be graced with their mother’s wish and must learn the hard way where not to play. Their punishment? A banishment to a distant park far from their family and friends.
I see the moon begin to lower in the west, a sign that I must make my way back to my Hammock home–a refuge for the Night Pelican.
The white variegated shefflera and bromeliads light the turn to my daytime residence.
The beauty of the rising sun is not for the likes of me.
For I, the Night Pelican, am safely home.