(This is Volume V of the Seagull Saga. Volumes I through IV can be found in the Archives.)
One might say that yesterday didn’t start well for me. My frustration didn’t have anything to do with the weather. Sure, its been cold lately, but not cold enough to make beachcombing unbearable. The front stalled over the southeast has blessed us with some stunningly beautiful sunrises of late. The horizon has been copper-lined at dawn, turning lavender about the same time many locals are heading out the door to go to work.
So, why was I so miffed? Well, a few bad apples left ten beer bottles — six Coronas with lime or lemon in them and four blue-vesseled Bud Lites. Coronas with citrus inserted in them? Talk about bad taste. The litterers were lightweights: the proof was in the putting. That made things even worse.
The final straw, to me, was that the litterers had soiled an area directly in front of the biggest oceanfront hotel in my ‘hood, where my buddy, Jon Seagull, likes to roost.
I had just seen him there a couple of days ago with a group of his gull friends, many of whom happen to be in my dharma beach bum parish. My flock. Jon’s not religious in the traditional sense, but he’s spiritual. He gets a kick out of it when I scare the daylights out of his friends with my tsunami-will-sweep-you-asunder sermons. He’s even thanked me in his own, crass way. “We’re even, you pr***!”
Where was I? Oh! I picked up eight of the beer bottles before I went in to lodge a complaint at the front desk of the haughty high-rise. It was 6:45 a.m. and two men behind the counter looked aghast at the sight of me. They’re not used to seeing wide-eyed beach bums wearing torn, sandy jeans and a couple of layers of sweatshirts in their lobby. Not at that time of the morning.
Nevertheless, I told them that a few of their guests had trashed the backshore with beer bottles directly in front of the hotel. After acknowledging that their guests come to town to have fun, I politely suggested that they look for a group of irresponsible, sissy-beer drinking bozos and tell them to have the decency to pick up after themselves.
“It’s a beautiful beach,” I said. That was right after I told the two men at the counter that I would have choked their guests if I had seen them throwing bottles all over the place.
They graciously allowed me to use their restroom to clean up. Maybe they were just glad that I wasn’t carrying a gun. I gathered the last two bottles after returning to the beach and tossed them in one of the city’s blue barrels.
Karma repaid me. My day brightened considerably when I noted the blue-green ocean teeming with life.
Dozens of cormorants shadowed a chain of menhaden running parallel to shore. The immense school of fish had also attracted dolphins, pelicans, gulls and even a few anhingas. The cormorants and anhingas can be difficult to identify except cormorants have somewhat curved beaks and anhingas beaks are pointed. The heads of the anhingas looked like submarine periscopes sticking above the water.
Pelicans gorged themselves so completely that most just sat atop the menhaden school. No offense to Jon, but the gulls were so stupid that they didn’t recognize how easy the pickings were. If one gull got a fish, two or three others chased it rather than fish for themselves.
It was all so beautiful to behold.
As I was leaving the beach, I swear that I heard, as if the voice were echoing in my subconscious, Jon Seagull asking me, “Why do you let yourself get so upset over something you can’t control? You can’t save the world a couple of beer bottles at a time. And you’re not getting any younger.”
I turned to look, but Jon wasn’t in his usual roosting spot. That skyrat’s always vanishing.