Thursday, April 28, 2011


I really did see them. At least, I think I did. Twice.

How often does one see a flock of Pelicans in southern Colorado? Crazy.....but there they were. On my drive back from picking up hay from our farmer friend and organic chicken food from the feed store a couple of days ago, I saw a whole mess of birds circling in the air above the prison farm. White birds. Seagulls, I thought. Well, that's unusual, but not unheard of. I'd seen seagulls often enough in Colorado, and in some odd places too. But, as I got closer to the birds in flight, I noticed they seemed strange, not like seagulls at all, and that big yellow bill was way too long. Do seagulls have yellow bills?

Now, I'm super curious, being a fan of the bird world and all, and I roll down the window (or push the button) and stick my head out, trying to get a better look while not running into the occasional oncoming car or farm truck. I should have pulled over, but life on our little farm called me back, and I decided I was either very lucky indeed to have seen such exciting birds, or just plain crazy, suffering some warp in reality that allowed me to hallucinate about thirty pelicans in the high desert of Colorado. Yeah, there were two groups of them and they were over a lake near the river, so there was water.

So I get home and forget about it in the midst of  my new job as farm manager and farm laborer and my old job as mother, housekeeper and cook. And as has been my way as of late, my Ego begins to grumble about the unfairness of life's circumstances and my mood gets sore with my aching muscles from digging post holes and potato trenches, from unloading hay and heavy wood posts for the fence I'm trying to get up to keep the guineas in. I don't want to be a farmer. I want it to be all done so I can wander through the gardens and admire my birds and flowers and growing things. Without Richard, I realize, I'm it, and it's way too much. I want to flee into the desert of NM and study the sagebrush.

Now that I'm on the new farm weight loss plan of constant work, I'm feeling pretty trapped and resentful. When was the last time I got to be sick? When you become a mother, you don't get to have down days. Even when you have the flu, you gotta pull it together long enough to feed and dress the kids. Life keeps on going and there is so much to do. Never a break. Work it off. There is no one else.

Yeah, I can't milk the goats like Richard, because I've milked them maybe five times in the year and a half that we've had them. It takes me about a half hour per goat, hands cramping, as I try to keep the agitated mama from putting her foot in the milk pail. When I get done with the morning chores, I'm in a state of agitation myself, and there are still kids to feed and backs to rub and laundry to do and floors to clean and meals to make and eggs to fetch and on and on it goes. I'd like to sit down. I don't want to haul another bale of hay. I broke the post hole diggers trying to get the holes dug for my pallet fence. My guineas are in the neighbors yard yelling and screeching. Do they like birds, I wonder? I had a man come out to give me an estimate on finishing the perimeter fence. Ha! There's a reason why we are doing it all ourselves. But, he did help me chase the guineas back into my yard. Nice of him.

Yeah, I've been in the clutches of an angry and resentful Ego that spits out rude words to anyone who dares speak to me. Not a good time. I fantasize about an old adobe in the desert where I could live...alone.  I walk by my living room windows and see the panorama of the mountains with the mesas in the foreground and think how I'd love to just take my easel outside and paint. Break out the forbidden oils and set the muse free.
That's on my way to something else, and forgotten as soon as I leave the room.

I think of selling the goats, the llamas, the millions of chickens and packing up the remainder of my herd and running to the desert, to my fantasy house that doesn't exist. Not to be. Here I am, back in my life, with screaming kids and a husband parked on the floor.

When I find my book on animal totems ( Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews) I learn that Pelicans represent "renewed buoyancy and unselfishness."
Now that's something. That can't be right. Is this a message on how I should be behaving rather than what's currently happening? I sure feel like a selfish witch who is being drug down to the murky depths of a hateful out of control Ego.
The Pelican is about self-sacrifice and how to rise above difficult life circumstances. But, how do you do that with grace and dignity while scraping the chicken poop off your boot?

So today I see them again. Pelicans. On the way back from taking Richard to a chiropractor, I see a mass of birds on the lake and pull into the parking lot of the old cement plant (?) or whatever it used to be. The gates are locked and I can't get a good view, so the old me, the wild and crazy adventurous me, hops out of the car. "Do you think I'll get arrested?" I ask Richard as I duck under the gate with phone in hand (the only camera I have with me...still dreaming of that SLR with telephoto lens). The yelling kids and Richard's constant pain and immobility vanish as I head across private property to find my birds. And there they are...they look like swans, they are so big. Was I mistaken?

I can't get close enough to really tell for sure, but it looks like one is standing with his huge bill swinging down to his chest. Yes! I try to snap a picture with our new phone camera (later I learned I shot a photo of the shoreline and no birds) and contemplate getting closer. But there is a mess of broken concrete rubble and it looks like some kind of old drainage into the lake... is this a toxic zone? And, I should not be here... trespassing. So I head back and even run the last 30 feet. I feel elevated, elated and there is a surge of energy running through my veins. I want to run. I want to fly. I want to get in the car and drive to Santa Fe.

But reality is a family and a farm and animals to take care of and kids to feed. Richard has to go to work in the afternoon. My moment of bliss has flown away with the four birds who seem to follow the car as we head out. "Did you see them?" I ask Richard. "Were they real?"

"I don't know. I can't really turn my head."

Back into the mundane I fall, plummeting into a different dimension, one where wild goose chases (or Pelican) are not only uncommon but waste precious time needed to dig holes for trees.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Kerry, this is a really powerful post, and one that I relate to completely. I too get really grumpy and resistant and "poor me" to my life circumstances while also having that deeper part of me that knows better and finds some kind of symbol - an icon, really - that helps me move into a truer place.

    The Pelican makes me think of the Empress card in the Crowley Tarot deck, which includes an image of a pelican. It's one of my favorite cards, and she's the strong, gracefully sacrificing mother - something I've held as a guiding image but never been so great at in reality. Here's a link to the image:

    I think when you're a creative, adventurous woman, it's very difficult to have two small children, plus everything else that ties you down. I didn't handle it very gracefully when I was in that position, but just remember - you ARE still the old you, and this is just a season of your life.

    And if you ever want to escape to NM for a visit, you're perfectly welcome to come study my sagebrush :)