• Jonathan and Friends

    by Jane Roland

    Jonathon Livingston Seagull searched for meaning to life and returned from “a higher plane of existence” where he had met other gulls who love to fly. He returns to earth to find others like him, to bring them his learning and to spread his love for flight. His mission is successful, gathering around him others who have been outlawed for not conforming.  Ultimately, the very first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher in his own right and Jonathon leaves to teach other flocks. So goes the novella by Richard Bach, written in the 1970s. In 1972 and 1973 the book topped the Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States.

    Later a movie was made, with a sound track by Neil Diamond, whom Bach despised; the film was blasted by the critics who said it was “for the birds.”

    I watched the birds with fascination when I was a child, living on Governors Island across from Manhattan. They are beautiful creatures with very bad manners.

    Anyone reading this knows that Pacific Grove has an infestation of these birds. In the building where I work at the AFRP Treasure Shop, they roost on the roof and constantly let us know they are present. There are peculiar noises that sound like trespassers, but, in truth, it is Jonathon’s friends, finding material for nests, rolling a purloined piece of bread along the roof top, and hopping. They are brazen and unafraid.

    The damage created by our birds is substantial. There is no doubt that the problem is of epidemic proportions as cited by Pacific Grove residents and civic leaders. The sidewalks are “mucky” and any automobile of color is polka dotted, I hadn’t intended that design for my little red Cadillac; none the less that’s what I get, week after week. The car wash establishments must be extremely happy and those who do their own cleaning full of a thirst for revenge. There is nothing that can be done. Seagulls are protected and cannot be assassinated.  They are really very beautiful and, I am sure, very nice, but Jonathon forgot to toilet train them.

    They are extremely intelligent, or have a great sense of time. At the ball games, late in the day (or at night), they start attending. First they are there to watch, perching above the stands.  A few weeks ago, one swooped down on the field when the Giants were playing. He probably thought that the ball was food. Normally, however, they sit up there…waiting…waiting.  If the game runs late, their patience runs out and they start swooping to gather morsels that have been dropped.  They are all over empty stands and parking lots by the thousands. On the other hand, we made them this way; we invaded their territory, and fished the oceans, the gull’s source of food.  What is worse, we feed them.

    Humans have infiltrated the domain of the animal world.  The deer population is ever present; they saunter across the street without fear.  It amazes me that we hear of so few accidents involving Bambi and cars.

    At the meeting called to address the problem, Lori Mannel, executive director of the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, told the audience that these are not sea gulls but western gulls…sea or western, they all look the same. Pacific Grove denizens will wash sidewalks and store fronts, they will clean their cars, and hope that Jonathon or one of his disciples will return and teach their brethren better manners. In the meantime cover your cars, wash your sidewalks and, every so often, duck.

    It is not all gulls in Pacific Grove. We have many dogs. Unlike Carmel we are not advertised as a dog friendly town.  As far as I know we have no charts listing establishments where Fido may also come, natives and visitors need to discover this for themselves. Pacific Grove Rotary Club, working with Animal Friends Rescue Project and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, plans to change this.  On September 28, the second Fiesta del Perro will be held at Robert Down School.  There will be something for everyone, entertainment, food, music, demonstrations, a dog parade, a children’s art show and much more.  An original painting to be used for the poster has been donated by Rotarian, Will Bullas, who is also on the committee.

    If you would like to have a booth, know of a good demonstration featuring dogs, or simply to be involved, let me know. There will be more to come in the following weeks.  Save the date and help us let the world know that Pacific Grove loves dogs (and, of course, cats, but that’s for a different fiesta)…  Picture1


    posted to Cedar Street Times on August 8, 2013

    Topics: Animal Tales and Other Random Thoughts


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