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January 11, 2013

Seagulled Part 1: The Crime

Our work should increase goodness, beauty, and justice.
I've spent quite a bit of vacation time over the last few years watching how seagulls operate. They are quite perceptive and communicate well. They always prey on toddlers first, tiny humans who can hardly walk much less defend themselves. They stumble about with upper extremities in high guard, offering up their pretzels or peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a pleasing sacrifice to the gulls.

Next they seek out children oblivious to their surroundings, the ones hopelessly lost in their own world of castles and sandcrab motes and monster truck jumps off boogie board ramps. Finally, they boldly approach full blown adults, often out of their visual range, when they're in relaxation mode, enjoying a snack while watching over their flocks or enjoying a leisurely book or conversation.

They hover and dive and cackle. They pester and fidget and swap an entire bag of Doritos right out of your daughters hands. They shit on your shoulder on the beach that the state of New Jersey charges $8 per person to access.

That's where some friends and extended family were in the late summer of 2010, thirteen children and 8 adults doing the typical beach hanging out and frolicking. Someone bought boardwalk popcorn. Somebody else opened a bag of chips. Seagulls flocked to the scene in seconds, no less than a hundred of them.

Parents and older children shoe'd them away, which was completely ineffective. They threw and kicked sand at them. The seagulls laughed. A bit later a few of the adults started throwing sandals and a bottle of water at the seagulls. It was absolutely self defense and sure, it was a little innocent (?) fun.

But as they say, "It's all fun and games until someone kills a seagull."

I set my sights on a gaggle of gulls approximately 30 feet to the far side of our group, zeroed in, and slung a water bottle. An explosion of feathers and gulls taking flight settled to reveal one squawking wildly with it's head down plowing circles in the sand. The older children ran to the bird. The adults stared at each other and almost in unison lip synced "Awww [bleep]."

The thing was making a HUGE scene in broad day light. The squawking-head plow undulation went on for seconds that seemed like hours.

My friend Ryan, a Perry county (country) boy, grabbed a spade shovel (we used as a sand shovel), paced over, and firmly said "Stand back kids." He hit the gull in the head, oh, probably two or four times. A small gathering of September beach goers had assembled by then. A few of the kids were crying. My oldest boy was begging me to nurse it to health and "have him as a pet."

But alas, the bird lie limp in the sand, put it out of its misery, as they say. It didn't seem right to just let it lay there in the circle of kids and people. I gently lifted the fallen creature by one leg, slunk over to a sand dune, carrying it low beside my thigh as a partial shield, and tossed the carcass far into the tall grass.

Less than a minute later the first police officer arrived on the scene.

[Part 2 of 2 coming next week.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to part 2 of Seagull lessons!