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"Pelly" the Pelican

                                 “A wonderful bird is the Pelican,

                                His beak can hold more than his belican.

                                He can take in his beak, food for a week!

                                But I’m darned if I see how the hellican.

                                                                    --D. Merritt (1913)

   During the 1990’s, my Hubby Norm and I lived on the water’s edge in Ventura, CA.  During the winter’s high tides coupled with storms, the seawater would thunder against our seawall, casting huge sprays of water against our house.  In spite of this, the benefits of the sunsets and the seabirds, plus the joy of seeing our grandchildren playing in the surf, overrode any fears we might have had.

    Regardless of the weather, weekends at our home were filled with friends who came to breath in the salt air and watch weekenders picnicking on the beach, and at day’s end, hoping to witness the  fleeting spectacle of the ‘green light’ which appears just 1-2 seconds prior to the sun disappearing into the ocean beyond.

   Soon after moving to our beach house, a pair of seagulls took up residence on our seawall which truly annoyed my Hubby whose task was to hose off their daily ‘gifts’ on our deck.  Not to be dissuaded by arm waving and yelling, those gulls became part and parcel of our family.  Because of their toughness, Norm named them Foreman (after the prizefighter) and Company (the gull’s mate).  The following year, and for eleven years thereafter, the pair would show up with a new offspring, which we named Peeps. 

   I remember it being a foggy morning  when I discovered the Pelican lying on our seawall…this was a first for us as Ventura’s boat harbor was just a quarter-of-a-mile (as the crow flies) from our home where fish were cleaned and remains tossed to the pelicans and gulls, no reason for a pelican to be on our deck.   A few hours later, the pelican was still there, not moving around at all.  At the end of the day we determined that this bird must be sick, and sick it was indeed.  I called the Santa Barbara wild bird rescue who informed me that if the bird were still alive, they would be there in 2-3 days to pick it up.

   Day two, ‘Pelly’ (who I had now named), was still there and I instinctively knew he needed water.  I filled a dishpan full of water, and with a broom, pushed the dish next to him.  Later that day, Pelly took his first drink, and by nightfall, Pelly was standing.  The time had come…Pelly needed food.

  Hubby had been Halibut fishing in Alaska a few months prior and we had a large supply of prized filets in our freezer.  For the next three days, Pelly lived on that halibut while Hubby complained at the price that halibut had cost per pound. 

I was elated…Hubby mad, and Pelly?...I think I detected a smile on his beak.

   Each day Pelly would stand at our sliding glass door and bang on it with his beak for more halibut and grab onto my pant leg when I opened the door trying to get to the dish full of fish. 

   Day five animal rescue arrived and Pelly was picked up without a fight.  I was able to caress Pelly, feel his beak and under his wings, his down-soft warm body…what a treat for me.

   Two months later animal rescue called and said blood tests indicated Pelly had somehow gotten food poisoning, but fully recovered and released.

   Two days later, looking out from my kitchen window, we saw a lone pelican bobbing up and down in the water a few feet from our seawall…the bird floated for a few hours, and when next I  looked, the bird was gone… Pelly???

   Last week (lucky me), my grandson Brandon fished for halibut just a short distance from the Santa Cruz wharf.  Armed with his pole and anchovies, Brandon launched himself in his Kayak and in just 15 feet of water and in less than 15 minutes, he caught his limit of three 7-8 pound Halibut.  I promised Brandon I would not reveal his fishing spot.

   Today, while preparing my gifted halibut for dinner I found myself smiling while thinking of my sweet Hubby and Pelly, grateful for those wonderful memories of years past.

Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce with Capers.  Great for any sautéed white fish, salmon or surprisingly, chicken breast.

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 pinch lemon zest

Salt & pepper to taste

Lightly sauté garlic in butter and oil.  Add cream and bring to

    a high simmer.  Cook until thickened a little.  Remove from heat and add

    lemon juice, zest and capers. Season to taste.

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