Unhand Me, Grey-Beard Loon


“At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came ;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God’s name.

“It ate the food it ne’er had eat,

And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;

The helmsman steer’d us through!

“And a good south wind sprung up behind ;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner’s hollo!”

However: ‘Twas not an albatross that glided into sight when we were on the ferry from Tiburon back to the city on Saturday, but a California gull. The gulls: They’re more familiar for their late-game invasions of local ballparks, swooping on peanuts, Cracker Jack, stub ends of hot dogs and stale buns. They appear in the hundreds and often put on a more interesting show than the paid performers on the field. Another habit they have, with which you’re familiar if you spend time on the water hereabouts: They trail boats, looking for any sign of free calories. This guy followed the ferry for five minutes or more. (Click for larger images.)




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Guest Observation

By way of the Writer’s Almanac, which notes that this is the anniversary of Lincoln’s 1862 State of the Union address (actually, it appears to be a long, written report rather than a speech). Anyway, he had a way of summing things up. He closed his message this way:

“The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. … In giving freedom to the slave, we ensure freedom to the free, honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth.”