Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Seagulls Really Do Fly Backwards

I lived near the ocean for my formative years, later just during home visits, but always because you never can get the sand out of your shoes.

We have a nice little diner near the water. It used to be further away, with a little concession stand about halfway between it and the surf’s edge, but Mother Nature and her tendency to send hurricanes our way took care of that section of beach.

When I’d be home and having one excellent meal at the diner, Marnick’s (Marge and Nick, the retired truck driver), I’d grab someone’s discarded fries on the way out, much to Mom’s disgust. She later got over it, or just put up with it; either way.

If there were no seagulls around, I’d whistle and a couple would show up. With my back to the wind, I’d single out one bird and toss it a fry. Zap. Then the next. Then there would be a dozen birds up there, and each one got its own spud, droped out of formation and I’d keep on going.

On a stormy day, the birds would work the surf, sometimes flying into the wind, sometimes holding just enough to keep zero groundspeed and, just as often, slowing down and letting the wind push it back. I’d tell the mainlanders, “Look at the seagulls flying backwards!” They saw it for themselves, they did.