Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Maine Gazetteer: Gulls

In the fall the wind often blows hard and steady out of the north and east, and this gives the gulls a chance to strut their stuff. I use the word “strut” deliberately, not only because what gulls do in the wind is like walking proudly on it but also because they do it with fixed wings, bound to their bodies as if by pieces of metal. I’ve watched the gulls sailing straight into the storm, fast, scores of them all moving north, hardly moving their wings, certainly not flapping them, in what can only be described as the perfect use of a natural body.

I'd like also to use words like “joy” and “pleasure,” and that's fine for me but not for them. Even if a gull could suddenly speak English and describe what he's doing, I still wouldn't understand him. I don't know how a bird weighing a few pounds can glide seemingly without effort into a wind gusting to 40 mph. I don't know why they're all going north this particular morning and none south. I don't know what new marvelous perspective they get on rocks and waves each time they twitch their wings a bit to take advantage of some unknown lift and drag. It's a miracle.

Excerpted from Saving Maine: A Personal Gazetteer
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