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Pelican Parade

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


White pelicans occur along the Missouri in summer. I'm not sure where they're breeding nearby, but they sure are in high breeding plumage, in a state most of us don't get to see. In this state, the white pelican grows a comb on its bill, a horny plate that falls off when it's not sexy anymore. And they grow this lovely black peruke, a little pelican toupee.

With Phoebe in the stern, we snuck up on a pelican. When I was in college, I took an animation course. This was in the days of cels and paint, when you drew every stage and painted it on a transparent cel. I chose to animate the takeoff of a pelican from the water. Oh, if I could have had these photos to work from!




Here's what I learned in Animation. I learned that I didn't want to be an animator, at all. I guess learning what you don't want to do is half the battle. Maybe more than half the battle.

This pair of white pelicans was resting and talking quietly on a mudbar.
Suddenly another pelican approached.

Sploosh! he splashed down and skated in to break up the tete-a-tete.

Who invited him?

I TOLD you he'd crash our little date!

I am so excited. My right elbow is resting on an 1 1/4" high stack of paper, still warm from the printer. It is the text of my new book. I finished the final edit today. Well, with books, there is no such thing as a final edit. Heck, it hasn't even gone to my editor, Lisa White at Houghton Mifflin. But I finished my quasi-final edit. And now I get to pencil in the illustration ideas in the margins. Oh my goodness. Verklempt!

Sometimes it hits me that if I were a normal author, I'd be pretty much done now. Instead, my work is about half done, because I've got to create all the illustrations. And if this book is anything like Letters from Eden, it's going to be lavishly illustrated with sketches and paintings of Important Birds in My Life.

Let the wild illustration rumpus start!

14 comments:

Congratulations!

Looking forward to the new book! FYI, the nearest pelican colony (one of the four in MT) to where you were on the Missouri River is a Bowdoin NWR, about 120 miles to the NE. Glad to see the MT trip is making it on the blog - I have been waiting to see how your trip out here went.

Rumpus bumpus! New book to come - woot, woot! Waiting with baited breath.

Great pictures of the pelicans! I am definitely looking forward to your new book.

New book??? Yippeeeee! Looking forward to every single page Julie. :c)

Maybe you should get a hobby, you know, get out more, take on something to fill your days.

Posted by Anonymous October 8, 2009 at 6:02 AM

Wow a new book!! Yippee Skippee!!

When I was back in Minnesota visiting family in August, I noticed your Letters from Eden on my sister's coffee table. Hopefully your new book will be another Christmas present for everyone next year??

Nice series of images, those Pelican would have been an exciting sighting...Thomas

The promise of a new book is always a treat - I'm looking forward to yours so very much! Thanks as always for taking me along on your travels; they've become part of my daily blog therapy :)

Anonymous, you made me spit tea.

I love your pictures of the pelicans! We have brown pelicans here on the Texas coast. To me they are an exhilarating symbol of freedom.

And congratulations on your new book. I just learned about "Letters from Eden" from your website this week, and have put it on my list for several people this year for Christmas.

Saw my first pelicans this summer in Fort Chipewyan; gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing my second Zickefoose in ????

Congrats on the book progress!
And many Thanks for sharing your days with us all - I, for one, am a better person after I enjoy your adventures vicariously with coffee.
Keep being so awesome!!!
- KevInAtl

Posted by Anonymous October 10, 2009 at 9:40 AM

These pictures are absolutely fascinating. I love the different steps in the pelican's lift off process and I wish I could see the animation (and learn some animation skills too). I am a big fan of pelicans because of how original of a creature they are. I recently saw a hilarious video of a pelican attempting to eat a pigeon and walking around with it in his mouth. I think this would be a beautiful piece of inspiration for your book. The video is easily available on Youtube. Thanks and lots of luck with the book.

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