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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2008 - 01:56:24

Counting seagulls
By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 19, 2008, 00:18

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It�s early November. I�m checking my mail when I decide to stand in front of my apartment building for a little air: Astoria, Queens, New York City, USA air.

I notice five seagulls flying overhead -- north to south -- well above the buildings, asphalt, and internal combustion engines. No more than a few seconds later, another eight gulls pass so I decide to count. Why not? In no time, I�m over 50.

To my right, in the beautifully symmetrical little tree that graces my block, the sparrows are chirping up a storm. Proud parents zip in and out of the branches -- still covered with green leaves -- to feed their young. The result is a symphony of cheeps, peeps, and tweets.

I�m at 75 seagulls now. Not sure if this is atypical or perhaps just a daily occurrence I�ve somehow never detected. As I near the century mark in about a 10-minute span, the sparrows are louder than ever. Are there more seagulls passing than sparrows in the beautifully symmetrical little tree? I�ll never know but I�m digging the fine, feathered experience no matter what. It�s what passes for nature in these parts. Outside of the rare raccoon sighting, we�ve got cats and dogs and squirrels and we�ve got plenty of birds: pigeons, crows, starlings, sparrows, and seagulls.

125-126-127 . . . but I can�t help but imagine what it might have been like in pre-Industrial -- hell, pre-Colombian -- days. �I have never seen a river full of fish,� Derrick Jensen writes in Endgame. �I have never seen a sky darkened for days by a single flock of birds. (I have, however, seen skies perpetually darkened by smog.)�

The sparrows quiet a bit . . . almost as if they can read my overburdened mind. A sky darkened for days by a single flock of birds? Seems like another planet to me.

I reach 168 seagulls before heading back inside. My neighbor�s imprisoned parakeet squawks as I climb the stairs.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at

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