The Pelican, Briefly

On our trip to the beach yesterday we sat next to a tree where a pelican nested briefly. He used his long bill to engage in some personal grooming and then peered out over the bay, surveying his domain. A few seconds and several flaps of his wings later and the pelican was off, skimming a few inches above the water and on the lookout for prey.

On Snorkeling

Yesterday we went snorkeling on one of the many pretty beaches on St. John, and I decided it’s just about the perfect vacation activity if you’re looking to relax and get away from whatever you’ve been doing back in the real world.

Snorkeling meets the minimum criteria, because it’s underwater — and therefore by definition away from email, computers, and offices — and you can’t take your cell phone, either. But there’s more to it than that. You’re floating effortlessly in warm salty water, propelled by only a few desultory movements of your flippers. When you’re in the water, you can’t hear much but your own steady, regular breathing through the snorkeling gear. It’s almost the definition of calm and serene.

And as you float and breathe, you’re focused on that totally different undersea world, where even waving fronds of seagrass or drifting strands of seaweed are interesting, and every fish is a darting and exotic sliver of color. Yesterday we saw regal sea turtles slowly munching their way along the ocean floor, a stingray, some barracuda, and zebra fish, sponges, sea anemone, and many other species of fish, large and small, that I can’t identify.

They’re living in their own corner of the vast undersea world, untroubled by government shutdowns or stock market plunges or the other real-world developments that might affect our thoughts. And when you’re there with them, you’re not thinking of those things, either. It’s a pretty good escape.