Picking up trash can be downright addictive when conducted in a scenic location with a simpatico companion. Today Connie and I scoured Santa Monica beach, north of the Pier. As I approached the water, a dolphin surfaced and disappeared in the surf. Birds abounded—flying, floating, hovering. Connie knows birds and informed me that the white specimens expertly dive-bombing into the water were terns. The terns spun and fell out of the sky like nature’s kamikaze pilots. When has basic survival ever been so fun? Do they ever get dizzy?
We stood transfixed clutching our trash bags as several generations of wet, coffee-colored pelicans flew just overhead. I once possessed a toy pelican eraser as a child. He stood about two inches high and dressed like a general with those fringey shoulder decorations, a smart cap and vague circles meant to suggest medals. I traded him to my friend Ria in exchange for a 1964 mint condition Beatles pencil-case and never looked back. But pelicans have always retained a certain absurd authority to me. Watching them land on the green waves, I almost felt like saluting.