I Thought I’d Never See

A Flock of Flamingoes

Flocks of flamingo. Africa. Kenya. Lake Nakuru

Driving across the Caribbean island of Bonaire in a hard-used rental truck equipped with a shimmy and loose steering, Joel and I crested a hill and saw approximately two hundred flamboyant pink flamingoes wading in a large body of shallow water. Their long, stretched-out necks and heads, barely submerged and held parallel to the pond’s floor, snaked back and forth searching for food in a mesmerizing underwater undulation of flamingo heads. Long minutes passed. We couldn’t stop watching

A Bevy of Belugas

But there they were, surging through the ocean waters of Cook’s Inlet in Alaska, leaping waves in equidistant rows, barreling toward the horizon: syncopated, buoyant, a playful army on the march. We joined other drivers who’d abandoned their cars on the shoulders of the highway and rushed to the edge of the water as the whales paraded before us in formation. Strangers no longer, we all watched with smiles on our faces, passing the word, belugas, to newcomers, until the last rank disappeared.

A Band of Rams

Group of Rocky Mountain SheepWe came across five desert bighorn sheep as we explored Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. Suddenly, the superior-seeming animals stood in our path: uninterested in and unalarmed by our presence. They noted our arrival and stood as though posing for our benefit, muscles flexed in case our intrusion became inconvenient. Stocky, confident, and indomitable, they stared at us from between rounded horns. We broke eye contact first.

A Pair of Peacocks Fly in Formation

Airborne, the peacocks winged their way above the narrow dirt road we followed along the Mississippi River. Both of the birds trailed tail feathers of length, partially fanned. They flew in tandem, outlined against a billowed cloud, their iridescent plumage highlighted by the afternoon sun. We watched their graceful passage across the sky and felt privileged.

A Lone Lizard Perform a Feat

Common basilisk lizardIt stalked the earth below a Mayan ruin in Belize. The few tourists present gave way before its royal pace and majestic body, nearly three-feet long and crowned with intimidating crests. Cameras clicked. Then the incredible happened. Startled by a noise we didn’t hear, or perhaps tired of our attention, the lizard reared on its hind legs and sprinted away. We gasped at the sight of an upright lizard running to cover. Later, I learned it was a common basilisk, more widely known as the Jesus lizard because it runs, erect, over both land and water.

I didn’t expect to see any of these marvels, but I was blessed to do so.

And in my mind, I see them still.