;Maybe the little mermaid was wrong. Perhaps life on dry land is overrated in the end, despite all the whosits and whatsits galore. Just ask our friend the bobbing seagull here…
It had been a wonderful weekend doing this, this, and this with some of my favorite people in the world: my church family. Running around coastal Northern California brought us to new destinations in fields, forests and beaches. These destinations became all the more exotic thanks to the contagious wonder of the many little kids we had in tow. The world looks different when kids help you to view it from their imaginative (albeit lower) vantage points.
We collectively chose to wrap up our weekend in Bodega Bay with a bit of salty air and fresh seafood. After driving around town without the cell phone reception we needed to keep our caravan of minivans and SUVs together, someone made a decisive move; they pulled into the crowded parking lot of a restaurant built on a wharf. At least a few of our drivers caught on and followed suit to whatever open spots we could find. The line out the door of this seaside hole-in-the-wall restaurant was a good sign, I figured, so this would surely be a worthy stop.
My wife volunteered to brave the line and bring food back to our family. A fine hunter-gatherer, she is. This left me outdoors with our three kids, and a few others for good measure. The kids ran up and down the side of that wharf, glancing out across the bay at ships passing by and squealing as the coastal winds blew their hair into their faces. One fishing boat came closer and closer until finally docking just thirty feet away. The kids watched in wonder as the crew set to scooping mounds of shining silver fish off the boat and into a waiting cart. A flock of seagulls suddenly appeared, mirroring our own anticipation of a fresh meal at the restaurant.
A few of the seagulls grew tired of their failed efforts to steal some fish from the sailors. Instead, they flew over to the children whom hey hoped might be persuaded to part with some of their lunch. There was much rejoicing by the kids, as the birds perched within arms length of the little ones. And they certainly tried to touch the birds, without much luck. The birds made it clear they were here for the meal and not for the petting zoo. The kids didn’t seem to care though. Birds that others might have seen as feisty pests were guests of honor to the children.
All except for the one lone seagull. It couldn’t be bothered get close to the kids. This fella or gal (or could it be long, lost Tessie?) seemed content to plunge its head beneath the waves to find food that hadn’t been spoiled by the open air. It wasn’t tempted by children whose slippery hands were prone to dropping seafood. It didn’t seem to care that these murky green waters near the shore looked like some sort of dappled and muddy Jell-O mold. So it had the water all to itself.
Admittedly, we all saw more of the seagull’s tail feathers than its face. Whatever was beneath the water was more interesting than us. But on one of its trips topside, I caught a photo of the determined bird rippling the surface of the water with frenzied movement. I had only a moment to peek at the image before turning my attention back to the frenzied movement near me. My wife was back with styrofoam boxes of shrimp, fish, and chips and the kids were running up to meet her. I started toward her as well, trying not to drool.
And I’ll bet my meal was better than anything the bobbing seagull caught that afternoon.
The Seagull: miracle of creation or vermin of the skies? Sound off in the comments below?