The following is an essay written by Holly about a wondrous summer observation. Enjoy….
I am sitting on a beach in Long Island on a glorious sun-shining summer Sunday. A group of seagulls glides to a halt in the sand about three feet in front of me. I am taken with their gorgeous eyes so inhuman like – yellow with flecks of brown – sizing me up one eyeball at a time as birds do with sideways turned heads. There are maybe ten gulls in this group. Only they separate me from the ebb and flow of the ocean waters. As I glance from the birds to the waves I notice one gull a bit more unsteady than his friends. At first I think he is standing on one leg with the other tucked up tight as my own bird at home in his cage does when he gets sleepy. But then I see that he has only one foot. Two legs, but one foot. Now that I realize this, I am impressed at how steady he is balancing himself so well among sand, wind, waves and companions. Every now and then he hops precariously on one leg while his footless one dangles. I am worried that he will stumble but he doesn’t. He finds new footing after his move and stands tall amidst life’s happenings. And he looks pretty good too like he’s been eating well this summer. He stretches his perfect wings, feathers moving ever so slightly in the breeze.
I snap a photo. I am completely engrossed by him now. Pretty soon two young teenage boys come along, happy and carefree with a bright green soccer ball. They are oblivious to the wonder in front of me. As they begin to kick their ball back and forth very close to the seagulls, the birds begin to back away one by one. But not my friend. Standing strong on one leg keeping one sharp eye on the boys he seems to say, “I am not afraid of your ball. Life’s thrown more than that at me.” Eventually the boys drift away with their ball and one by one the nine or so other seagulls come back to the spot they had fled from. They encircle the one footed wonder as if to say, “You ok? We’re here now; that was close!” The steady gull answers by bending his knees, laying his belly in the sand and resting.
I imagine all sorts of scenarios as to how the seagull came to be with only one foot. Was he in a fight? Did he get tangled in debris? Was he rescued, rehabilitated and brought back to the beach? Or maybe he was born that way? I wonder at his majesty. I delight in his calmness, braveness, peacefulness. The beach is so crowded today. And yet he rests. It is so beautiful here.