Things That Move Along the Shore

The land here on Padre Island National Seashore is like one long, flat sand dune.

We watch northern harriers fly beside the shoreline hunting for rodents and we see crested caracaras perch on the few high spots to peer into the grasses. A healthy-sized coyote stared us down along the road, and (I mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating) a bobcat with a duck in its mouth darted off the path to avoid us. All were a delight to see even for a moment.

What else is moving along the coastline? The wind blows the loose sand from the dunes across the packed sand of the beach, and it makes geometric patterns like I’ve never seen.

There’s also this crazy beast.

Banjo doesn’t like to swim or dig, but she will go all Cracker Dog on you, especially when you’ve been walking with her down the beach and tell her it’s time to turn around. Yay, time to go back for a nap!

Here is the movement along the shoreline that has captured my attention the most.

I know that pelicans are a dime a dozen in so many places. I love them especially, though, for the way they fly so beautifully together. The undulating line they make against the sky seems like an animal all to itself.

I had that mystical few moments kayaking under a flock in Arkansas last year, and since then I’ve felt an extra boost to my connection to nature when I see them.

Those were American pelicans, whereas the ones here are brown, so they’re less dramatic to see in the sky. My goodness, though.

I was walking along the beach yesterday watching a line of them fly north, when I saw another line flying south. They intermingled just enough to pass through each other’s flock, and then their lines reformed to continue the scouting or whatever they do when they fly along the shoreline like that. It was magnificent.

For about nine months now, I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do about travel. I’m feeling a little burned out, a little ready for a home base. But, when I watched these two flocks pass through each other, I knew I want to stay on the road. At that moment I felt like I was back on the Mississippi really seeing pelicans for the first time. It was a moment of clarity.

My life on the road gives me so much more than individual experiences and memories; there’s a greater connection to individual places, to the wild, to the Earth that I can’t get if I were sitting in a living room each night watching TV.

That being said, we’re moving tomorrow from Padre Island National Seashore to a nearby state park with inferior beach access because we need reliable electricity and a hot shower. It’s been cold and grey for so long on the beach that we had to actually run the generator on Thanksgiving so we could use the oven for the day, and we used all the gasoline we carry for that sucker (which isn’t much, since we use it about twice a year). Plus, we have to wash away the sand and sea salt, at least for an afternoon, and I’m too much of a wimp to use the cold water showers where we are. So, I’m not turning down the occasional comfort; I’m recognizing what I gain when I place other things as priority.

6 thoughts to “Things That Move Along the Shore”

  1. Lovely photos! I do envy you the ever changing scenery and experiences, but I’m a creature comfort girl and could never live without them for long.
    I enjoy the pelicans too. Such goofy creatures.

    1. To me the pelicans are graceful when they’re flying together. I have a thing for groups of animals moving together (my squid tattoos for example), come to think of it! I guess we all have different definitions for creature comforts. 🙂

  2. Blimey, those photos are amazing. I never much liked pelicans but we were in Florida a month ago and I loved their graceful morning and evening flights above the water. I know what you mean about travel – I look back on where we’ve been and what we’ve done over the last few years, even just in Britain and wonder what next? Another experience? Another photo that, when it pops up as a Facebook “memory” will leave me wondering “where the hell was that?”

    1. That is totally what I mean, “Where the hell was that?” I can’t believe I’ve been the places I’ve been—sometimes my own blog is a sincere mystery.