I walk on a beach owned by the Audubon Society where endangered plovers are a major concern. But many birds are in danger. This summer there is only one family of black backed gulls. They used to be the major species here but then were overpowered by a more common white backed species. Many mornings when I walk the mile-long beach, I meet Stephanie who has been coming here longer than I have. This summer she had become friendly with the only black backed gulls who frequent the beach, a pair and their very large juvenile offspring (whose back is still a mottled gray). Stephanie knows a woman from the Audubon society who tells her how communicative this species is. They are indeed. They watch for Stephanie's arrival, one will eat out of her hand. This beach does not have many gulls. It is not a well known beach and is not for swimmers, so often in the mornings at 8:00 or so I may walk it's length and meet no more than one or two people-- thus it was that Stephanie who comes early too, and I stopped to talk. Found we were two writers and shared concerns about the birds and the beach.
The juvenile gull has become a matter of concern. He is, in fact, larger than his parents, but they are still feeding him. So is Stephanie, who, in fact, has brought high protein kitty chow for the whole family. Obviously the parents can survive well without her handouts, but Junior seems to be unable to seek his own food. Stephanie was throwing raw peanuts to him the other day. She is intelligent and thoughtful enough to worry that her interference is changing the natural dynamic of this small family.
We have a proprietary feeling about this beach and it's well being. We are concerned about the red sea weed which is an invasive species from Japan (probably brought by fishing ships) that is choking the natural green sea weed on which the many varieties of shell fish depend. This in turn means fewer shell fish for the gulls and is probably one reason the beach has a small gull population (plus the nearby public beaches are good sources of snacks for gulls.
We humans cannot let nature take its course. She and I worry about erosion from the several hurricanes that have lightly touched down here. We watch the horseshoe crabs which this year have been only very small young ones that molted and their shells washed ashore-- in the past we have seen many older, larger ones. Where have they gone? Have they died? They are a "fosil" species, they were ancient when the dinosaurs were beginning to take over the earth.
And we bemoan the tourists who have found "our" beach, who bring their dogs -- off leash -- ignoring the signs, disturbing the nesting birds. I am happy to have become a "local" who can feel proprietary about this tiny stretch of our precious Cape Cod. It is very, very beautiful, especially early in the morning, seeing no other human figures on the whole mile-long arc of sand, I feel that it is "my" beach.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!