After a day of driving for Discover Sarasota Tours, I stopped near the Van Wezel to rehearse for my upcoming Irish Hooley performance of “Seamus O’Day and the Irish Way” while enjoying the sunset. As I went over the script I put together, I noticed a pelican who didn’t seem to be sitting in the water like other pelicans. He floated closer to me, and I noticed that occasionally he would struggle with something that seemed to be caught on his wing. I called the number for Save Our Seabirds, but they were closed for the day. I didn’t think the bird would last the night if I left a message about my concerns.
The pelican floated towards Centennial Park so I jumped on my bike and rode around the boat launch to see if I could get closer and possibly help it out. I left my bike on the grass, maneuvered by way out onto the rocks of the jetty, and noticed that it was still struggling several feet from the shore. I asked the bird to let me help him in the idealistic hope that my Doctor Dolittle powers were up to par and it would swim its way over to me and let me unhook whatever had it caught up. The pelican just tugged again at the invisible filament that bound it.
At that moment, some people who were heading out of the boat ramp in a catamaran asked if something was the matter. I told them that I thought the bird was caught on a fishing line or something, and the man in the back who was paddling said, “We’ll take care of it.”
He turned the boat around with his paddle, and the woman on the boat said, “Steve?”
As it turned out, it was John and Gabby Hoover, members of our local, award-winning bluegrass band The Wandering Hours. They also happen to live only a block away from me , and John contributed his mandolin to my last live performance before Covid, the “Leap Day Hootenanny” at Tamiami Tap and to the recording of my song “Dear Mona Lisa“.
John paddled toward the injured bird. As the pontoons overtook the bird, Gabby snatched it out of the water as if she did it every day, and their friend Scott helped her get the bird under control.
As I’d suspected, the pelican had been hooked, and Gabby and Scott set to work on freeing the tangled bird.
As they floated out into the bay, turning their catamaran into an emergency surgery center, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the sunset knowing that I had made a difference in the life of a bird, as well as my neighbors and their out of town friend.
If you are ever out in the world, and see where someone or something needs help, if you have the heart, move toward it. Although you may not be able to solve the problem all by yourself, the universe has a way of providing assistance as we seek to find purpose through service in the world around us. Together, we’re capable of some pretty wonderful things.