Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life's a Beach...until the Seagulls Arrive

Whenever I go to a beach, I think: "I can't believe I'm here." The ocean is literally where the sidewalk ends, so being there is like stumbling on "once upon a time," or "happily ever after," or even "meanwhile, back at the ranch." It has a storybook quality to it.

We went to Cape Cod with our family last week. We climbed a sand dune to a private beach in the neighborhood where we were renting a house. Mostly, it was empty. If I lived near a private beach, I'd haul my couch down there, and the kids would do their homework on the sand, and I'd fill a plastic baby pool with ocean water for J.J., and make it our little hillbilly oasis.

But apparently people who have private beaches work long hours and cannot spend all their time seaside.

It was chilly, so the boys stayed on the sand. Johnny played football. J.J. and his cousin Brendan filled buckets of water and got the sand wet, which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds. Richie wrapped himself in a towel and took a nap. The grownups read books or watched the waves lap the sand.

One day, we fed the seagulls a couple Cheez-its, which in their minds meant, "Welcome, new best friends. Feel free to stare at us from two inches away for the remainder of our seaside visit. Because that's not creepy at all."

They surrounded us, inching ever closer. The boys' Papa picked up a smooth stone and said, "I'm protecting my clan." And they backed off.

Meanwhile a bee buzzed around Richie and me. Richie is a little scared of bees because he once got stung by 14 of them at the same time. I thought the bee might be thirsty, so I tried to pour a little water on our mat to distract it. But I accidentally poured it on the bee. Frightened, he left us alone...or so I thought.

Well, eventually, everybody left, but I stayed behind to read my book.

At that point the seagulls surrounded me like the The Others on Lost.

"What?" I asked. No reply.

The day before, a seagull had pooped on my head while I was walking the kids over to the public beach to get ice cream. And because the public beach was 50,000 hours away and the poop was nostril-level in my hair, I had to smell it the whole time (even after I rinsed it out in the ocean.) So there is no love lost between me and the seagulls. I, too, picked up a stone, but they were like, "Aww, isn't that cute? The lady whose head we pooped on is trying to scare us."

At that point, I noticed that one of the seagulls only had one leg. I felt sorry for him for a while, but my brother-in-law came down to the beach and pointed out that the seagull squawked at the others and hogged the Cheeze-it crumbs. We figured that's why the other birds ended up biting his leg off.

With that mystery solved, I turned back to my book. But suddenly, the bee buzzed back over and stung my big toe. And proceeded to fall over dead. I hope it was worth it. I hope my toe was to die for.

My thoughts turned from, "I can't believe I'm here." to "The animals can't believe we're here." Really. Humans calling this a private beach. Are they prepared to lay down their lives for it, like a bee. Or even one of their legs, like a seagull?

No and no. Which is why every once in a while the seagulls descend on us, letting us know that while we may be bigger and smarter and the inventors of such seagull favorites as Cheez-Its and Doritos, they can fly. So they'll see whose left standing on the beach in the end. Or, more likely, hovering over the picnic basket.

P.S. It's the last day to vote for best local blog; If you'd like to vote, please go to and click on "Kansas City" and "Best Local Blog." Thanks for voting!


Blogger pat said...

Good luck on the contest! Those sea gulls have no fear. We throw bread up in the air to them in FL and they walk right up to us for more.

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