The humidity had lifted this early morning, so a walk was foremost in my mind. There’s a lovely little path along the canal close to where I live. Another draw for me is the coffee shop tucked around the corner, a fifteen minute walk at best.
On this day I chose a cranberry orange muffin with my coffee and selected a picnic table near the water to enjoy my snack. I was pleasantly diverted, so much so that I didn’t notice I was being watched, scrutinized really, when I bagged my garbage. I turned, ready to leave, when a pair of piercing yellow eyes and a screaming pink beak assailed me.
This gull was mad. He had snuck up on me, expecting a crumb or two. Had I seen him before I finished, I would have gladly shared. He was in no mood for explanations however. Only a metre away, he cawed and shrieked at me, standing his ground. Next thing I knew there were two of them, one on either side, a stereophonic clashing symphony. I watched, amused as they huffed about me, with their angry raised shoulders, beaks still protesting and I recalled a time years ago when a very pregnant young woman did the shrieking, in defense of scavenger birds.
It was the summer of 1975. I was walking home from a check up at the doctors. We only lived a mile from town and it was a bright beautiful day. I loved passing by the weir, where the rush of water below sent a cool spray over the rocks. Seagulls would soar overhead, giving a picture postcard feel to the tableau.
A commotion further down drew my attention. On an outcropping of rocks, two young boys, perhaps ten and twelve, laughed wildly as they flung rocks at the gulls below. I grabbed my purse and my sizable belly and ran, screaming at them to stop their abuse. They kept at it until I got in their faces, shaking with anger. I threatened to call the police. After one called me a crazy fat lady, they hopped on their bikes and took off, still laughing.
At dinner I related the whole episode to my husband.
“Sh–hawks?” he said, incredulous. Then he laughed, but not in an unkind way, more like a guy who figured his wife’s hormones had gone wild.
I know to this day I would have stopped those little buggers cruelty, pregnant or not, but the emotional rage I felt then shocked me. Hormones? Yes, but also a maternal wish to respect and defend living creatures.
The seagulls have stopped their clamour, still eyeing the crushed paper bag in my hand. I get up to leave with a promise.
“Next time guys.”