Yesterday’s News

by Scott Snyder

I have heard that inland seagulls are harbingers of impending doom. If that is so, then this town's headed for a fall. It seems strange to me, though not unpleasant, to hear seagulls' cries a hundred miles from shore. I don't mind seeing them, but their squawking caw -- like a bird scraping its beak down a blackboard -- sounds incongruous. It reminds me of summer. It warms the air. I'm not looking forward to the prophesied calamity, but I don't mind the birds.

I went with some longtime friends to feed the ducks today, but the ducks waddled the ice rather lethargically. They were in spring training, we supposed, possibly replacements for striking pros. Mostly, we fed the gulls, who managed to impress the talent scouts in spite of the icy playing surface. They shagged some tricky flies and snared one-hop liners that looked like they were through the gap into center for doubles.

Some park-goers clucked their tongues at the gulls. They had come to feed ducks and regarded the gulls as poseurs and interlopers. I, however, like to get as much entertainment value out of my stale bread as I can. If the ducks want a handout, they can darn well learn to mug for it. Read Darwin, ducks! Adapt!

On our way out of the park, we passed a three-year-old, who also had come to the park for some ornithological observation. That's not true, actually; she came to play in the mud. On the first warmish day in February, one has three choices. One can sit in the house moping, one can feed the ducks, or one can wallow in snow runoff. All are equally valid ways to celebrate the impending season, as I see it. They help us to adapt, to change with the seasons. The three-year-old's mother disagreed. Her daughter's diversions caused her great consternation, and the matter nearly came to blows.

"That's what I don't like about the idea of being a parent," one of my friends said. "All these rules. They get reified, and you forget why you made them in the first place." The little girl was engaged in the healthy and time-honored pursuit of Questioning Authority. Seagulls fly inland; why shouldn't they? Maybe the handouts are better. They're adapting -- examining the stay-at-the-seashore rule and finding it obsolete. Would that I had such fortitude.

Parents: if your children want to walk in the water when you go to the park for the first time this spring, please let them. They're adapting. Read your Darwin.

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