The Return of the Pelicans

Have you ever noticed how things happen in cycles? Politics, art history, fashion, the seasons. While I’ve tended to avoid politics here, I’ve talked a lot about the seasons. The autumn Georg died (eons ago in 2013), I was quite taken with how celebratory the trees were looking, even though my father had just passed away and I was in deep grief. What I came to realize is that the trees do their joyfully-going-dormant thing no matter who is being born or dying. That is just what trees do in the fall of the year.


Now it is late spring, almost summer, and the pelicans have returned to North Point. Last year was the first year that pelicans had made a migratory stop in Sheboygan in quite a while. When they arrived in 2016, it caused real a ruckus among elite bird watchers and average citizens alike. Once again this year, there is a flock of migrating pelicans encamped not far from my house. It feels like they have come to visit me. I know this is not the case, but I like to think it is. I believe they have a message for me, but I must ask, what could that message be?

Last year when the pelicans came, I was living in a different world. I was happy about so many things, but those things are gone now. This is the thing about loss: it just keeps coming. I can balance it out with all the ongoing birth, renewal, and upgrades, but when you get to be my age, it is hard to stay in touch with what is fresh and new. Everything seems to be about the leavings. Leaving, leaving, leaving. Gone.

But the pelicans! They are back. And they are so. Huge.


With nine-foot wing spans and weighing in at about 16 pounds a piece, they are some big-ass, graceful birds. This year, they are displaying a lot more movement than I witnessed last year. They are taking leisurely floats down the lakeshore, far away from their base camp on the rock jetty. They are also doing a lot more flying, just cruising around in little groups of four or five birds. Watching them soar lifts my heart.

Georg would have loved them. I so wish he was here to see this. I wish a lot of old friends were here to see this. But, they are not. It’s just me and the pelicans. I will take their visit as a gift and I will enjoy their bounty, even in the face of the loss that is an inevitable part of life. My life, your life, all our lives.

I’d like to close with Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game, a song I remember listening to when I was 10 years old. It made me cry then, and it makes me tear up now.

And the seasons, they go round and round
and the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return, we can only look behind
from where we came
and go round and round and round
in the circle game.

Hey, if you need a break from going round and round, can you please come and watch the pelicans with me?

p.s. WordPress informs me that this is my 100th blog post on Frying the Onion. Wow. How about that? What will the next cycle of 100 bring, I wonder.

2 thoughts on “The Return of the Pelicans

  1. Thank you for writing about loss and age, and the relentless march of time. But, ah, the pelicans.
    They are a renewing spirit in the midst of it all. Sending love.

    1. Thank you, MaryJo! The pelicans are indeed a renewing spirit in the midst of all the loss. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s