We were on a trip a few years ago. The Florida Keys. It sounds romantic, and it was. I mean everything. When you allow yourself to be swept up in it, the Ernest Hemingwayness of it all. The small details — waves rushing under a beating sun. The boats rocking next to the thatched roof bars. The night heat. The novel being written by the couple you can’t help but overhear at the bar — you start to feel it all, deeper than you could imagine. You can smell the salt in the air. Taste it. Everything is more. Even the pelicans looked beautiful. The pelicans.
We sat for a long time on the pier. Watching them. They had runway model confidence. Up and down the pier with ease. “Go ahead. That’s right. Take our picture.” I couldn’t look away.
I’m always painting in my head as I look at something. Seeing each shape. Color. I stared at them. Bit by bit, this is not a conventionally attractive animal. A little awkward. Weird angles. But I couldn’t look away. They looked back, as if to say, “I know, right? We’re beautiful!” They believed it. They truly believed it. And so did I! I could see them. Really see them. And they were something!!!
I continue to paint them in my sketchbook. Each time I understand them a little more. Appreciate them more. On the days when I really need to be brave, I think, I could be that pelican! I am that pelican! The romance of confidence sweeps in, and I am saved.