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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Flying penguins? In Georgia?

“There’s a pink one!” I shouted above the noise from the motor.

The previous morning, Dad, my husband, Mark, and I had set out from Dad’s dock on the Georgia coast with an aim for catching enough fish to make paying for our licenses worth it: $48 apiece, including tax, for a year.

Our first day, on Dickerson Creek, we weren’t having much luck, but when Dad tried to start the motor to move to a different locale, we learned the battery was dead. Dad simply wrapped some sort of string—maybe leather—around something on the motor and pulled, and it belched to life.

We motored back to the dock, then Dad drove into town to buy a new battery, I took a nap, and Mark took a shower.

After Dad had returned and installed the new battery, he and I went fishing without Mark, who opted to stay at the house and watch golf as he’d already cleaned up.

While Dad and I were out tooling along the waterways, he brought my attention to these pink birds that hung out in the trees, roosting with the wood storks. This was his 11th summer in Georgia, and he’d never seen them before. I suggested that they may be juvenile wood storks, but he didn’t go along with that. He pondered what gave the birds their pink color.

We saw at least two or three pink birds with each grouping of the white wood storks but always outnumbered despite the fact that wood storks are a threatened species—meaning not quite endangered yet.

So, the next day, with Mark in the boat, as we motored to a fishing hole, I sat on the bow of the 18-foot Shoal Cat, looking back at the men, who both sat looking forward.

“There’s a pink one!” I shouted over the motor while pointing as a group of wood storks and three pink birds flew low in the sky behind the boat.

Mark’s head made a quarter turn to look in the direction I pointed. Then he thought better of it and faced me squarely and said, “No, there’s not.”

“Yes. It’s a pink one! One of those pink ones Dad and I saw yesterday!”

Mark shook his head and refused to look. I really wanted him to see.

Dad, who couldn’t hear Mark, shouted loud enough to be heard over the motor: “You know, I guess it’s the shrimp or maybe even the krill they eat that gives them a pink color.”

Now, knowing I wasn’t trying to fool him, Mark turned to see the group flying away. He turned back to me and said, “I thought you said ‘penguin,’ and I wasn’t falling for that one.”

“Penguin?” I said, and then I laughed. “I said ‘pink one,’ not ‘penguin’.” I laughed again.

Penguins flying across the sky on a hot August afternoon in Georgia. That is pretty hard to believe.