Writer’s Block: Chaotic Serenity

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

As so often happens, I found myself taking several moments to pause as I went about my way this week. Moments of quietude where my attention was diverted from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and redirected towards the goings on of the natural world.

These moments were almost always brief, perhaps five or 10 minutes at the most. But, Mother Nature certainly provided many opportunities for such moments and I was loathe to pass them up. It always fills me with a minor sense of awe to observe such natural phenomena existing right alongside us, utterly oblivious to our busy schedules of meetings, work deadlines, errands to run, meals to cook, chores to finish, family obligations to meet, and so on.

For example, during a trip to the Port Isabel Public Library recently, I stopped literally mid-step after noticing something out of the corner of my eye. It was a vibrant splash of color, somewhere between lilac, lavender and magenta. It was none of those colors, but somehow also all of them at once.

What was it? A native cenizo, or purple sage bush, covered in blooms so fierce that adjectives such as “violent” and “riotous” become positive words.

Clearly, this little drought tolerant bush, growing just past the library’s doorway, has benefited from our recent rains.

Later on, I saw another rain-happy purple sage at the foot of the Lighthouse similarly blooming. Its delicately scented flowers were abuzz with bees taking advantage of a rare fall feast. And, like the bees, I was similarly drawn to the plant, entranced by the way the late afternoon sun was setting its petals aglow. It moved me so much, I was inspired to take the photograph that graces the cover of this week’s edition of the South Padre Parade.

There have been other moments this week that have elicited feelings of wonder, as well. Such as the pods of pelicans I’ve seen floating low in the sky in the evenings, heading to their nighttime roosts while the last golden rays of sunlight shine in the west.

It was while watching one such pod mark a diagonal across my field of view that I was delighted to observe an interesting aerial ballet play out.

The pelicans had been flying by in groups of a half dozen or more every few minutes. It had been several since I’d seen the last flock of large shorebirds flying past. In their stead, however, I began to hear the telltale whistle of an osprey. I looked up, and sure enough, there was one riding the thermals high above me, looking nearly motionless as it held its wings out to their full spans, head tilted into the breeze.

Meanwhile, another group of pelicans was quickly approaching from the opposite direction, with those same thermals at their tail, helping to propel them forward. It wasn’t until the two species were closer together that I realized they were both flying at a similar altitude.

The pelicans, flying in a V like ducks, suddenly broke formation, flapping their wings with languid speed, perhaps annoyed that their more agile raptor cousin had refused to yield way.

A few seconds later, the pelicans had passed the osprey and resumed their formation. For its part, the osprey keened once, then twice, before heading on its way in the ever-darkening sky.

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