Seagull Posing, Larkspur Landing | Mark Lindsay

Seagulls seem often to pose for me. They stare at me and patiently wait as I fuss with my camera settings. They’ll stand still when I’m on land or hover miraculously over me (giving the illusion of stillness) when I’m on a moving boat. I’d swear that they know when I have a camera in hand. I suspect they are birds of significant vanity.

On some days I get sick of the heaviness of it all and the ponderous nature of art and writing about art. Today is such a day. So, I prefer now to focus on the simple glory of birds. All birds have an inherent lightness about them. They defy gravity—I don’t know anyone not moved by a soaring silhouette of a bird in flight. But, the attraction of birds goes beyond flight. Their lightness goes beyond the obvious.

The other day I watched an egret come crashing, feet first, into a drainage canal. He seemed intent on making a big splash. A few months ago I sat on the beach and watched pelicans dive head first into the surf with abandon. Once, at the same beach, I saw a one-legged curlew hop along without a care in the world, oblivious to its disability. Birds seem to have taken a lesson from their literal ability to soar. They are the embodiment of soaring, the essence of air.

While we humans ponder what we’ll do next in life, our feathered friends are content to simply be what they are. My seagull friend watched me as I got on the ferry, intent to fulfill my plans for the day. I was thinking about getting into the city, going to lunch. I was mentally projecting out my day. The bird stood and watched me make my photo and then just flew away to the next thing.

A new year is about to begin. We humans insist on reflecting on the past and resolving to do better in the future. The birds don’t care a whit. They are too busy being birds. And maybe seeing when the next silly photographer comes along to take their picture.