by cheri block
Judge Blah and I launch our sea kayaks into an estuary on the California coast and paddle out to a spit for lunch.
On this sandy peninsula far from the peopled shore, live motley crews of misfits, sea birds that have lost legs or wings from attack or carelessness or just plain bad timing. Pelicans and gulls—as with the isolated inhabitants of Molokai — never fail to evoke my curiosity about life’s cruelties.
I plunge my hand into the trail mix. A grey boy with one leg hops around in a practiced dance.
I scatter a few nuts and oats on the sand.
Soon, over the dune, come three more characters, a pelican with a damaged beak and two gulls with broken wings that stick out permanently, unable to fold back into their bodies. When the birds see the potential for a free lunch here on the spit, their enthusiasm breaks into loud staccato whoops and squawks.
Don’t feed the birds, Cheri. Eat your trail mix; you’ll certainly need all your energy to paddle back against the current.
I get up, looking a bit like a shiny black harbor seal in my wetsuit, and go to my boat.
His kayak and oars are yellow; mine, orange.
In the yellow kayak, a rope lies coiled in the bow. When the current is strong and the winds of Poseidon blow, I am unable to push against the force, try as I may.
He paddles over, strong and secure, tethering my boat to his. Off we travel toward the shore, he rowing against the waves and I pondering this dependent arrangement.
My friends on the spit trot over to watch this silly scene.