Jun 15, 2009


Seagulls and I have a history that extends from my early childhood to today.

When I was a little girl I went to a seaside restaurant with my family and after dinner while out walking amongst the breakers I found a seagull that was tightly tangled in a fishing line. One leg was horribly bent and the poor bird's mouth was held shut with multiple layers of the thin plastic line wrapped around its beak. The bird was dirty and thin, but still struggling to free itself and I cried when I saw it. I refused to leave until my mother went to call for help and animal rescue came and saved the bird. Only when I was sure the bird would be nursed back to health and then released did I get in the car and go home.

A few years ago, David had business on the Vineyard and I gladly went with him for the day, accompanied by Griffin and a friend. After lunch we took a walk on an empty, quiet stretch of beach and as there were a couple of seagulls circling above me, I pulled the remains of my lunch from my doggie bag and began to share it with them. (I'm the person who will always stop to feed the birds wherever I am when out and about in the world, with whatever species of bird is in front of me. I've even been known to quickly find a store to buy some food with which to feed them when I'm caught empty-handed). So back on that beach, the gulls multiplied rapidly until I had utterly lost control of the situation and could no longer be seen in the middle of the swirling mass of white and gray feathers flying low around and right above me. My three companions stood there, stunned and speechless, by the surreal scene before them. Rather quickly I ran out of food and the birds gradually took off for a better opportunity. While it was thrilling to be completely engulfed by so many big, beautiful birds, I must admit that it was nicer when they had gone. And considerably quieter.

At the end of the day we walked along the pier, killing time until the ferry was ready to leave for the mainland. It had been such a beautiful day: the autumn air was a bit chill but the sun was warm, the trees were turning a rich red and orange, and the sunset on the boat was going to be spectacular. There at the end of the dock, sitting on a piling, was a lone seagull. As I had an apple and some crackers left from a mid-afternoon snack, I thought I'd share my food with this one last seagull before getting onto the boat as for me it would be the perfect ending to my already perfect day on the island. Moments later I once again found myself covered in hungry birds. And more hungry birds. And still more birds. The number was staggering, and this group was not nearly as polite as the group on the other side of the island earlier in the day. Needless to say, it wasn't long before I ran out of food and the birds became really agitated. As exciting as it was, I have to admit that visions of Alfred Hitchcock were running through my brain and while I wasn't exactly calm anymore, I did manage to get myself safely out of the melee around me. And as I walked over to my horrified companions, David asked me (actually shouted to me over the near-deafening screeching) if I was done feeding the birds for the day? When he found that I had no more food, he and the others were all visibly and palpably relieved.

There are always a handful of seagulls at our local home improvement store, ambling about the parking lot and perching atop the lampposts. And while there is a doughnut shop just inside the front door, as a courtesy to David who is always with me there as I am generally tagging along with him on an errand, I have resisted the urge to rush in and buy a doughnut or two to share with the birds. But I think of doing it every single time I go. And one of these times I just might.

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