FOR THE LOVE OF SEAGULLS

I love seagulls. I smile when I hear that first seagull in the Spring. I know some people complain about them, but they may be the kind of people who just like to complain.

Not only are they beautiful, but they are intelligent. According to Bird-X, they learn from experience and teach each other, such as signaling that fish are available by flashing their wings in a specific flying pattern over the school.

When I moved here almost nine years ago, a seagull adopted me. I named her Cee Cee. I would be outside reading a book or writing, and she would swoop in, sit on the picnic table and stare at me. She didn’t come over to get food because I had none to give her. I just think she wanted my company, or maybe she thought I needed hers, and honestly, I did. That started a year-long relationship with her. Whenever I was outside at the table, she would come by for a visit. And yes, I would talk to her. She’d cock her head, listening to the latest story I was writing or telling her about the book I was reading.

Usually, whenever I was outside, the same people would walk by nearly every day. They’d strike up a conversation with me about my seagull. One guy came by with his wife and said he didn’t like seagulls, that they were dirty, and that they stole food. I told him I loved them and introduced Cee Cee to him and his wife. She must have sensed that he didn’t like her because she flew away until they left.  After I told him the story about how I met Cee Cee, he asked me how I knew it was the same seagull. They all look alike, he said. I straightened him out and told him that like people, seagulls don’t all look alike. Cee Cee had unusual-looking eyes, and her beak was a little askew. She had beautiful markings on her wings. As soon as she saw me, she would swoop down from wherever she was perched to sit with me.

It got to the point that I would look for her everywhere. If I was driving down the street and saw a seagull, I would wonder if it was Cee Cee. One day I was at Brady Park when a seagull swooped in and sat on the picnic table. I looked around, and people were staring at me. The gull didn’t choose any of their tables and many of them had food. I didn’t think it possible it was Cee Cee, but lo and behold, it was. That whole first year, Cee Cee and I commenced a special friendship.

Sometimes I would see other seagulls checking us out. I imagined them whispering to each other, wondering who Cee Cee was visiting and why. That summer, we shared what I like to think of as one of those once-in-a-lifetime relationships that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Seagulls amuse me. Have you ever seen them standing on the Homeland Security sign at Brady Park? I also love it when they stand on the hood of your car and stare at you through the windshield.

About two years ago, I was again at the park reading a book. I was sitting at a picnic table not too far from the shelter. There was a large, noisy group nearby. I think they were tourists, at least I would like to think they were because I can’t imagine a native yooper doing what one lady did.

I guessed the woman to be in her early fifties. She had been sitting on a lawn chair in the shelter. She left her group with her chair and plunked it down in the middle of the park. I glanced up and wondered what she was doing. Nobody else from her group joined her, and there wasn’t a freighter in sight for her to watch. She didn’t have a book in her hand either. I noticed the raucous laughter coming from the group in the shelter. I closed my book and watched. After she got comfy, she placed a french fry on her head. A big ole smile came to my face. This is going to be good, I thought. I closed my book, wishing I had my camera, while I got comfy too.

She sat very still while everyone around her was laughing. At first, she tried calling them, “Here, little seagulls.” I know those gulls thought she was nuts. I did too. At first, one or two circled her head and landed about 6 feet away. All of a sudden, everyone in the park got quiet. I’m sure they wondered if this was the big moment a gull would steal the french fry. I looked behind me to see if anyone else was watching from their cars in the parking lot. I couldn’t see through their windshields, but I’m sure they were. Time stood still.

Slowly a couple more gulls showed up, and that kept happening until it looked like the infield and outfield of a ball game. All the gulls had surrounded her. Things got tense, and nobody moved until one brave gull flew up and closely circled her head. He started screeching and screaming, and all the gulls flew away, not one turning back. I think everyone was disappointed that the gull didn’t take the fry. But as I thought about it, I figured out what had happened. I believe that the seagull was screaming and screeching that there was hair in the french fry. Nobody wants that, even a seagull.

I hope, at some point, she realized she should count her lucky stars that all those seagulls didn’t scalp her that day. What was she thinking? Didn’t she realize those seagulls could have dive-bombed her and fought over that one measly fry? All I can say is that the good Lord was with her that day, whether she realizes it or not.

One day, I was having lunch with friends at a picnic table beside the river. I bought a pizza, and the other couple made a gigantic salad. I passed the pizza around, and then the salad got its turn. My one friend was rather ornery that day, and as the salad passed to her, she took the bowl of salad and tossed it into the air. I was around sixty years old at the time. I couldn’t believe how fast I moved. I crouched down with my hands over my head, as close to the ground as I could. Jim, who was sitting across from me, did the same thing. His wife, Sandy, was laughing and dancing. She thought it was hilarious that about 100 seagulls dive-bombed us all at once. They came out of nowhere. A freighter happened to be passing by when high up out the door, when the Captain shouted to us, “Hey, what are you guys eating out there.” Jim looked mortified. He was still trying to get up off the ground. I peeked out over the table and waved. Later that year, my friends both went to their heavenly homes. But whenever I think of them, I fondly remember that incident. Now that was a tossed salad. I still chuckle over it when I think of my friends.

So yes, many of you feel seagulls are a nuisance, but maybe it’s all in your attitude. I think they probably laugh at us, and who knows, just maybe some of them think that we’re a nuisance too. I can think of a few people I feel that way about.

Whether or not you like seagulls, they are a part of this beautiful land and country. I enjoy watching them. I get a kick out of unsuspecting tourists that leave food untended on the table for a moment, only to find their food was snatched away by a seagull. Their faces show it all. Nope, seagulls never fail to amuse me.

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