As a child I was a landlubber, but as an adult some of my fondest travel memories are trips to the water.
I inhaled my first breaths of salty ocean air as a three-month-old baby when my family took an unheard of jaunt to the sea – the Atlantic Ocean.
Of course, I have no memory of that whatsoever, but there is an old black and white photo that my father took as proof. In that picture, my mother and my two older sisters are sitting on a bench on the Atlantic City boardwalk and I am in my mother’s arms. This was in the 1950’s so we are decked out in dresses.
When I met the Papa of this empty nest, he couldn’t believe that I had never been to ‘the shore’ as we call it on the East Coast. His family vacationed every summer there with extended family. My family…well, we didn’t vacation much except weekends spent at our woodsy camp.
So Papa, who was then my fiancé, hauled me off to the Atlantic for a day at the beach. Since then, we’ve spent time with our family on sandy and rocky shores on both sides of our country – the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. We’ve visited bays and lakes as well.
And in all that time of being near the water, there is one thing I learned quickly. Don’t ever feed the seagulls.
If those pesky birds ever get one slight hint that you have food, they will surround and overwhelm you. They aren’t called scavengers for nothing. And they are greedy little critters who don’t understand the meaning of enough.
A scene from the animated movie, Finding Nemo, comes to my mind where seagulls descend on some tasty morsel and they all scream, “Mine, mine, mine!”
That about sums it up when describing those birds.
During our hotel stay in St. Ignace, Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron, I was reminded of that movie scene.
After I discovered our lakefront view the night we checked in, I wanted to see that view in daylight that next morning. Cloudy overcast skies with a never-ending forecast of rain caused us to be socked into our room trying to decide what to do for the day and rescheduling our plan to visit Mackinac Island.
I drew the sliding glass door curtain open a bit, unlocked the door, and stepped outside onto the patio. Big mistake. The courtyard, formed by the hotel wings and fronting the lake, was filled with seagulls – screaming, wings beating the air, diving this way and that, greedy gulls all clamoring for a bite to eat.
Seems whoever was staying in the room next to ours had never learned the lesson about feeding those gluttonous birds. I couldn’t see the person because he or she must have been standing in the doorway and throwing bread outward.
But the air was full of birds, gulping down the bread bits as fast as they could, demanding more with their squawks, and fighting each other for the goods.
It was a feeding frenzy.
I couldn’t venture any further to photograph the lake because the birds obstructed my view and I wasn’t willing to walk through them, not to mention they were dive bombing everywhere and I was sure to get pummeled by one or worse (left a little ‘surprise’ on my head).
As I stood there, watching the craziness, I couldn’t help but think those gulls reminded me of our culture’s ‘news’ media in this age of instant, 24/7 reporting.
Media stalk celebrities, politicians, sports stars, anyone in the public arena. They force themselves en masse onto a scene shoving microphones and TV cameras into people’s faces trying to get the latest sound bite.
They hound, they badger, they show up in a horde just like those always hungry sea birds, all in the guise of getting a first-hand report before anyone else does.
And it seems, no matter what your politics may be – liberal, conservative, or independent – that they thrive on tearing people to shreds all for the tiniest morsel of information.
Media. Seagulls. They both remind me of an out-of-control feeding frenzy, which is why we should be careful what we throw out there.
“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” ~ Eric Cantona