Seagulls Remind Me

"The morning beckon
       With water praying and call of seagull and rook…"
             – Dylan Thomas

I am a devoted admirer of seagulls.  I find them humorous, charming, ridiculous, beautiful, clumsy, graceful and full of webbed aplomb.

I know that many people disagree with me.  I remember visiting Hastings, an ancient town crowned with battlements, tumbling into the English Channel.  Every morning I would join our group for breakfast, and inevitably the conversation would lead off with bitter complaints about the gulls' crying throughout the night.  I had to disagree.  I enjoy being reminded that the ocean is near; that if I were to open a window I would be embraced by the sea with a veil of salt, dappled with scales and starfish.  I enjoy listening to their forlorn voices threading through the briny fog and sea clouds.

When they are grounded, their dignity is absurd.  They stare intently into the horizon, looking for the forests that grow beneath the waves and the islands shrouded with maritime breath; for the pock-marked hides of whales; for rainbow-colored grottos.  They sense the tides, they hear the currents.  They gather in serious groups – an open invitation for children to invade and scatter their numbers.

And when that times comes, they run into space, taking a leap into its invisible rivers – swimming higher and higher.  The wings extend so wide and fine, each feather ruffled by the airy fingers holding their host aloft.  Then, like a kite flying itself, after much maneuvering, the seagull becomes a stationary ship on its sea of wind:  staring down with benign interest on the curling waves and the stippled shore.

Sometimes I see their chevron-shaped shadows circling over the rocks and hillsides.  Calm and leisured, they are messages drifting down from their madcap owners.

I occasionally see them in the city, several miles inlland.  Now, I know that seagulls are opportunisitc feeders with a powerfully developed sense of smell, and that they can smell a rancid banana 50 miles away.  But I always liked to think that they were there to remind me – as they did many years ago in southern England – of coastlines, patterned shells and creatures shining beneath the waves.

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13 responses to “Seagulls Remind Me

  1. Oh Aubs, you make everything look so beautiful.
    Me, when I think of seagulls the first thing that comes to mind is that scene from Finding Nemo where they're all squawking "Mine! Mine!"
    Well, that, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

  2. One of my fav parts of visiting the Marina in SF was the grey seagulls and how they would defiantly hold their ground as I approached.I also recall being at an open-top outdoor exhibit, of some kind of turtles, at the Aquarium of the Pacific. There as a seagull hanging out in the exhibit and people kept wondering, "how do they keep it in there?" Made me laugh cause it was obvious that the thing had simply flown in to steal the turtle's food and would be departing as soon as it got bored with confounding tourists.

  3. Nothin' cheers me fullyLike a beautiful seagully..In the mooooo-ooorning!

  4. Your description is so apt and beautiful, Aubrey. Totally delightful!"Gull" is actually a species of bird, of which seagulls are a one type. I live quite inland, far from shores except the river, and plenty of those opportunists abound. Mostly in places humans tend to avoid but leave their trail–mall parking lots and garbage dumps. I too love watching them.

  5. I am a waterbaby so the gulls strike a similar chord in the presence of the sea BUT they are obnoxious, annoying and the kingpins of criminal birds. Mostly I like to listen to 'em, look at them, and eat my lunch 3 miles away in peace.

  6. Sweet tribute to seagulls! I like them too. They've started blotting the skies again and for me, that is the promise of warm weather on its way. I know here in Chicago near the lake and even inland there are a lot of seagulls out and about. I too notice how scared people seem of them. I've even heard ladies protest, "Git, you ugly rat!" This made me angry. So much is not appreciated and taken for granted in our world. How anyone could be put off by such a cool bird is beyond my understanding.

  7. What a beautiful piece, Aubrey.

  8. LeendaDLL/JP/WBaby – Opportunistic, part of the avian criminal element, shameless turtle-robbers: yes! They are so blunt about it – it's part of their charm. But they are so abundantly goofy too: when I feed them, and a pack gathers around, the alpha bird always scatters the others away. He then looks at me blankly. He's forgotten about the food. Love them.
    Hetta – I feel sorry for people who get no joy from birds. I listen to them when I walk to work, I look for them when I walk to work, I watch them when I should be walking to work…and I'm late, no matter how quickly I walk to work.

  9. Another beautiful essay! I like seagulls a lot, too, but then, I like being near the sea….

  10. Utter bliss! Your essay is like a mirage here in the Midwest, where we see these birds in Kroger parking lots near the Great Lakes, and we hear them on the "Seaside Symphony" track of a bedside white-noise machine.

  11. I love seagulls and think they are very beautiful and interesting. Unfortunately I live far from the sea and I don't have many occasions to see them and hear their voice.
    Nice post too!

  12. I love seagulls. They speak to me of the sea and its sounds. I collect images of them. Not sure if you saw this blog post, but I love this story:

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