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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wheeling About



I’m a Prairie Child who enjoys spending time with toes buried in sand, ocean side.  What can I say?  I’ve thrilled to deep waters squatting on Aracadia’s rocks or traipsing along the soft beach bordering Calabogie Sound. 

Anyone who has spent any time at all observing Life along briny coasts has seen seagulls flocking around trawlers and shrimp boats.  It’s a sight to see.  Birds by the hundreds pilfering whatever there is to be gleaned in the wake of fishers and seiners.  

Landlubber though I am, I’m surrounded by gulls.  The ring-billed gull, in particular, decided to homestead in the Chicago area.  They numbered in the thousands some thirty years ago.  Today?  They number in the hundreds of thousands.

You can take the gull from the sea, but you can’t take the sea from the gull.

I saw an amazing thing today: hundreds of gulls flocking about a farmer discing his field.  It was quite a sight.  Here was a farmer on a tractor, turning the soil amidst a cloud of gulls.  They swooped and soared, wheeling about, diving from great heights to ripples of loam.  Feasting on the proteins exposed.  I’d seen that sight, many a time, over saltwater...behind boats.  Never over a farm field, though.  Boat had morphed to tractor, liquid had morphed to loam, yet the gulls behaved the same.

I marveled at their telecommunication skills.  How had these gulls, so far from water, found this field, this farmer and this plow?  Made me realize how badly I suck at long-distance messaging. 

I was mesmerized, enthralled.  This unexpected ocean view over dry land caught me utterly by surprise.

Though my legs had grown weary pedaling so far from home, my heart reveled.

* * *


The roadside attractions did not begin nor end with gulls and grubs.

The day before, legs coated with sweat, lime dust and cottonwood seeds, I chanced upon a young coyote crossing my path on his/her way to a farmer’s field.  I confess: I got a thing for young mammals.  They’re curious.  Every bit as curious as I was at their age. 

It’s a funny thing.  I pass by quite a few fields populated by grazing horses and cows.  The older members of the herd content themselves with grazing, mostly.  Preoccupied, almost exclusively, with matters of nutrition and romance.  The colts and calves?  They indulge in curiosity.  I like that.

This specific coyote?  Seemed a bit scrawny to me.  I’ve been fretting about his/her general health ever since.  ‘Cuz I’m a worrier.  That’s what I do.

Regardless, this young predator eyed me suspiciously.  (S)he moved a few steps farther afield as I pedaled closer.  The eyes remained fixated on me, a lycra-clad apparition moving most bizarrely.  I pedaled closer.  Coyote sidled farther.  Our eyes locked together.

I gotta say, I felt flattered.  I am of an age when I draw nary a glance from younger homo sapiens.  This “seventh decade” denizen has become accustomed to obscurity.  Regardless, this young, rather malnourished, coyote  found me most intriguing. 

For that, I am grateful.  I feel rather blessed, actually.

* * *

8 Comments:

Blogger June Calender said...

..."ripples of loam" with their earthly protein for the telepathic seagulls -- what a description! Wonderful as it is, but it would make a wonderful poem too. I see it as you painted it - an astonishment. The coyote is an astonishment too, a cornucopia of wild life observed by someone who seems to have a bit of wild life in him -- not a lycra clad sensibility.

Mon May 21, 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Being a flatlander myself, I have seen the tides of gulls behind the farmer's harrows uncountable times, feasting on the insects exposed. I've also seen the gulls trolling behind fishing boats on Lake Winnipeg, which, while not an ocean, supports a decent fishing industry (pickerel, anyone!?)

Mon May 21, 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

We have the same thing here, hundred of gulls following the farmers as they till, even this far north and inland. And the wild animals; I just spent two days in the mountains and saw two black bears and one grizzly, all of whom ignored us, as well as countless wild sheep and goats. It's the waterfalls that I truly love though.

Mon May 21, 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

I love those chance moments of connection with another creature, when your eyes lock for a moment. That's my sort of religion.

Mon May 21, 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Awww, you are too kind, June. I am of an age when it's obvious that Time is slipping away. As a consequence, I try to drink in as much as I can of life around me.

This was a first for me, Ponita. While it's typical, in my 'hood, to find starlings, grackles and sparrows foraging through a field in a tractor's wake, I had not yet seen such a dense flock of seagulls. What a difference! The starlings and their kin dine in silence, moving discretely as a group from one plot to the next. Somewhat akin to an Amish community pancake breakfast, I imagine. Seagulls? A raucous frat party with free pizza!

I've never encountered a grizzly in the wild, Lilith. Black bears? Yes. And owls, eagles, moose, antelope, deer, elk, coyotes and countless other living things. I carry about these encounters in my heart. They constitute some of my most vivid and cherished memories.

And waterfalls? Yes! Amazing aren't they? The air surrounding them so vibrant.

That's my sort of religion, too, SAW.

Mon May 21, 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

We've this in common....our affinity for these spaces and their reply of love and acceptance. The animals care nothing for our age, only our countenance and intent. They can SMELL intent. I wish I had the same gift. Now, while I would not harm a cat, I generally dislike them. But the other night, sitting just off my friends acreage...their cat came up to me and jumped in my lap. The cat was born wild and somehow decided to stay on at one point or another. Having not had much physical touch of late, I was blessed with it's paws kneading my abdomen and it's face snuggling into my chest. My friend says the cat doesn't like people. And well....I don't like cats. But we both opened our perspective for a moment and I'd like to think that Romey was as blessed as I was.

Thanks for taking me along Jonas. I always love to watch the birds. Fine writing when I can visualize the scene so vividly. Coyote had it right.

Mon May 21, 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

It's all about dinner, I suppose. One place I often see whirling, calling gulls is over a landfill, aka the dump. We humans throw away so much food. Somehow, it pleases me to see the gulls making good use of it.

I love young creatures, too, but I guess I'm drawn to them all. I've come across many older ones out there in the "wild" (bears, coyotes, foxes, etc., and the occasional upright animal) who enchanted me with their direct gaze.

Tue May 22, 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Yes, indeed, Patti - it's all about supping to survive. As someone who spent his adult life trying to clean-up/make safe hazardous/solid waste sites, I've encountered many a forager surviving on our discarded food.

And you are correct, of course. It's not always the very young who prove most intriguing.

Wed May 23, 08:50:00 PM  

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