• Geoff Scully

Gulls and Hawthorne

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

The other day I was watching the Yankees playing the San Francisco Giants at their stadium built in 2000 at the water's edge. On a sunny day TV camera-shots regularly show sailboats tacking this way or that. There's partying on anchored motorboats just a few hundred feet from the stadium wall. Home runs hit to right field can splash beside a boater. It was an evening game, and in the eighth inning they pointed a camera skyward to show dozens of sea gulls circling overhead. There were more gulls perched high on the peak of a green corrugated roof, looking down at the spectacle below. One of the announcers, Ken Singleton, explained: the birds know when the end of a game is approaching. They're waiting. When the fans leave their seats the sea gulls move in to clean up the popcorn and other edibles left behind. They are like the cleaning crew. It occurred to me that cleaning up popcorn is preferable to cleaning up gull droppings. Those are some big birds...

Also, these two sentences from Hawthorne's "The Old Manse", published in 1846: "Did I say there was no feeling like it? Ah, but there is a half-acknowledged melancholy like to this when we stand in the perfected vigor of our life and feel that Time has now given us all his flowers, and that the next work of his never idle fingers must be to steal them away one by one." At thirty-eight I too stood in that moment, and felt a tremble.

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