I found a feather today, and along with it, I recovered a piece of the peace of my childhood. I found a sea-gull feather. I found nostalgia, and I wallowed in it.
I was born and raised in a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. The sand-bar island, half a mile offshore was/is a sea-gull nesting-site protected Provincial Park. We had sea-gulls! Lord, we had sea-gulls.
They loved the 4 or 5 fishing boats that went out each day. Swimming at the beach, late in the afternoon, I could watch a fish-boat heading back to the river harbor, towing a 100-yard kite of gulls behind it. The fishermen gutted the fish on the way home, and dumped the offal in the lake.
Actually, of course, these were ‘lake gulls.’ Few, if any, ever saw salt water. Their deep squawks were a constant summer background sound-track. Later in life, I found that the gulls on Lake Erie were the same breed, but for some reason they cried like they had sinus infections – their calls much higher and shriller.
The simple discovery of a feather brought back childhood memories of fun, freedom, warm summer sunshine, tourists, fast-food and nothing to do, but hundreds of things to do.
As innocent children, we found many things to do with a feather. We could wedge it in our hair, or tie it on with a string or an elastic, and be an Indian in the games of Cowboys and Indians….before it became politically incorrect, and an insult to Aboriginal Rights.
I’ve cut the bottom off larger feathers at an angle, and split the longer edge, to create a quill. Sadly, all too often, instead of elegant writing on a sheet of paper, all I produced were ink-blots that would make Rorschach proud…or curious. There’s a real art to it; one which I never mastered.
As a teen, my friend and I would split several lengthwise, and glue them to a piece of dowel we’d bought at the lumber store, ‘fletching’ it to produce an arrow. For a tip, we’d add a filed-down sliver of split-off railway track. We could have just bought a target arrow from the hardware store, but what’s the fun in that?
Aside from fish guts, another thing that seagulls clean up is edible human waste. They keep down infections by keeping down the rat population; it’s why they’ve been declared a protected species. In my warm, fuzzy home-town, they kept the streets cleaned of dropped tourist (and native) hot dogs, French fries, ice cream cones and popcorn.
My current home is, sadly, much closer to Lake Erie than it is to Lake Huron, so the gulls shriek with a nasal twang. There’s a landfill site behind the plaza where I found the feather, and at least 12 eating establishments inside it. With the help of some sparrows and chickadees, they keep the grounds clean.
When I found the feather, it took me on a lovely flight of retrospective fantasy. I didn’t even pick it up, but left it, hoping that another young Archonoid would jam it in his hair, or take it home to tickle his sister with. Perhaps even, an adult would see it, and be winged into some pleasant thought or memory.
Remember, sex involving a feather is a fun fantasy. Sex involving an entire bird is perverted. 😉