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Perhaps to some, the Whitetailed Tropic Bird otherwise known as the Bermuda Longtail, is just a bird.  Not to me.  Not to many others…especially Bermudians.

Those of you who have read the book or know the story, understand the profound connection I have with the Longtail.  In short, I believe the Longtailed Ones who came to see me at sea…carried the spirit of my deceased Father, Allen LeRoy Frucci.  For me and others, the Bermuda Longtails which hovered over my head every day on the way to Bermuda…were Angels.

“You’re a nut job, Frucci!” some of you will say perhaps.

Perhaps I am, but it’s fun in my brain…especially when I think of stuff like this…

Look at this screen capture from a video I shot using a GoPro Hero 2 while I was alone at sea on the way to Bermuda back in June, 2013:

longtail17

In this particular shot, I am not sure which day it was or how far out to sea I was at the time, but the first time I saw this bird was on the second day and I was on the other side of the Gulf Stream.  Note the bird in the lower right of center…it is a Bermuda Longtail…one of the key characters in my book, “Path of Three Hundred“. The coolest thing to me about this pic is an aspect I didn’t notice until recently…

The Longtail here in this shot, looks like an F-8U Crusader jet fighter…the jet fighter my Father, Allen LeRoy Frucci, USMC, flew while he was in the Marine Corps and I was a child growing up in the 1960s.  I remember images of low turning F-8’s very well…especially the times we lived on base. I remember sitting near the runway and watching Dad and his squadron do touch and go’s in their F-8s for hours on end when we lived on a Naval Air Station in Olathe, Kansas (yep…a Navy Base in Kansas…it is closed now…go figure🙂 ).

Perhaps it just me, but given the power I felt at sea on the adventure alone…and the words spoken to me by older Bermudians about what the Bermuda Longtail represents to sailors at sea…this pic has become a favorite of mine.

Wanna see what an F-8 Crusader looks like?  Click here for google image results.

From the Chapter, “A Cab Ride In Bermuda“…

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A bird unknown to me came to visit each day…

all of the other winged ones would just fly…

the one unknown was different…

he would hover above me…looking at me…

 

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The smiling face of a cab driver could be seen through the van windshield as Petah stood waiting. An ancient looking Bermudian man stepped out of his vehicle to help with the bags. The two silently entered the vehicle for the thirty minute ride to the airport where Petah would fly back to Masonboro. The cab driver remained silent for a while as Petah stared out the passenger side window. Petah thought about the past two weeks he had spent here in Bermuda, this little Island far out to sea. Breaking the awkward silence the cabbie spoke…

“My name is Alfred…but my friends call me, Freddie.”

“I’m Petah…but most people call me, Tah.”

Petah turned with a half-smile to Alfred for a moment to shake his hand. As Petah began to stare blankly out the window again, Alfred continued…

“You sail in here, Tah?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?” Petah was coming back to the Present. His blank stare was gone as he looked at Alfred.

Alfred smiled with the repose of someone wise, “You have a Way about you few would understand…and you’re a bit crusty.”

The two laughed out loud. Petah just shook his head knowing this old man beside him was a kindred Soul and one to whom he should listen…he had made another instant friend in this Land of Limbo people call Bermuda. Petah thought about all the colorful humans he had met here and he knew he would miss this place very soon.

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I thought it odd at first…

every morning, seemingly the same one…

he would look at my mast…and then…

at me…

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“You a sailor too, Freddie?”

“Naw, I’m just an old Accountant. I drive this cab to make some extra money…and I like meeting new people…this way, I meet interesting people every day.”

“But you said…”

Freddie laughed while he interrupted, “This is an Island, Son…and I am an old man who has seen many of you come to this place from the sea.”

Petah began staring off into space again…this time thinking of the sail East and how he arrived here.

“I’d like to hear a story of your experience out there…if you would like to share.”

Petah thought for a moment while he looked out the window. Alfred was taking the South Road along the cliffs. Petah could look far out to sea from this height…the day was beautiful and he could see seabirds flying along the shore.

“The mind of a human can easily drift to another time and place with inspiration,” Petah said still staring out to sea.

Alfred just smiled silently while he waited for his passenger to continue. Petah turned and was now back in the Present with his new friend.

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I spoke to him…

he would hover and stare…as if…

he listened…yet…

said nothing…

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“I sailed here by myself from the Village of Masonboro, North Carolina…seven hundred miles across open ocean. While I was at sea, seabirds would fly near the boat everyday. I can’t remember exactly, but about four or five different species of birds could be seen all the way here. All but one of the species generally ignored me…they would fly by or land in the water and sit…perhaps just to rest after hunting for fish. The one who did not ignore seemed to seek me out.”

A big knowledgeable smile appeared on Alfred’s face. “Alone? I see…”

Petah continued, “Every day, starting the morning of the second day at sea and for the next six days, a white bird with black markings and a long tail feather, as long as his body, would come to my mast and hover as if he was trying to land on it. The bird would then move down towards me and hover about eight feet…or closer…above my head. It was the strangest thing. He…or she…would just stare at me…I could see the bird’s head move to look at my eyes. Hovering there for five minutes or so, the Beauty would fly a circle around the boat, come back to same spot and stare…he would repeat this several times over fifteen or twenty minutes and fly away.”

“Not until I arrived here in Bermuda did I realize the name of the seabird. As tired as I was that first day here, I wanted to find a postcard to send to a friend of mine. Muse is her name. Wandering around a pharmacy, I noticed the bird on one of the cards. Turning the card over, it read, ‘Bermuda Longtail, the National bird of Bermuda’. I felt a chill down my spine.”

“You say he did this everyday…at the same time?”

“Starting the second day…yes…only I did not see one the morning I sailed into St. Georges Harbor…I just realized that.”

“Because you made it safely here, Petah.”

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As I drew near my destination of Bermuda…

more would come each day…

sometimes three at a time…

flying around my Little She…hovering above me…

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“Is your father still alive, Tah?”

“No, he was killed in a boating accident at sea almost ten years ago.”

Alfred smiled again and this time he let out a big sigh. “I do not know what your beliefs are, Petah…and they do not matter. We all can believe whatever we wish…that is our sacred choice as humans, but I and others here in Bermuda, will tell you that the bird you saw, was your father guiding you safely here. The Bermuda Longtail carries the spirits of Angels.”

“My sister died two years after my father. Interesting…and Dad was a Pilot.”

The cab was nearing the airport. The two stared off into the distance. The sky was blue with few clouds. Crossing a small bridge to the old US Naval Base which is now the International Airport of Bermuda, Petah stared into the clear water below them.

“I will come back in November for my boat.”

“Yes you will…and you will sail her home with the Longtail keeping you safe as they protect all sailors such as you.”

Upon arrival at the airport, the two departed in separate directions as friends…perhaps to never see each other again. Petah went through the motions of an air traveler that day. He sat in his window seat of the aircraft and stared out the window as the vessel climbed to altitude. He looked through the clouds down at the tiny island of Bermuda surrounded by the deep blue sea. He wondered what his life would be like now…for this he had not envisioned a month ago. Petah was beginning to feel a confusion as he sensed a new battle brewing.

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Upon my arrival on this land, I found…

the unknown one to me was the bird of this land…

the Bermuda Longtail. 1

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