the birds.

gull encounter

It’s october 31 and I”m preparing to go see ‘Rear Window” by Alfred Hitchcock.   Mr. Hitchcock was the king of cinematic suspense.   He  knew that a psychological thriller was created with themes of mistaken identity, innocents falsely accused, trust and betrayal and ordinary people put in extraordinary peril.  “There’s no terror in the bang of the gun, only the anticipation of it”.

‘The Birds’ by Mr. Hitchcock was incredibly real for me as a kid.  Fortunately, coastal birds attacking everyone in town did not create a fear of birds.   My naive analysis of the film was that the love birds were angry because they were caged but in fact Mr. Hitchcock wanted the viewer to see more the human condition in response to the fear.  A theory that life is ultimately precarious.  The birds remind us that control is an illusion.

Gulls and I have a long history together.  On occasion when there’s enough old bread and I’m feeling brave, I go feed them.  Usually we arrive at the ocean to see a couple of gulls and within minutes the flock s approaching create a rush of panic as if a scene from ‘The Birds’.   Most gulls are bold scrappy scavengers.  It can seem confrontational to have a gull hovering for a morsel in mid air.  I know of no other bird brave enough to look me in the eye and display its gluttony.

While Hitchcock created the fear that I relate to my gull encounters, it is Jamie Wyeth’s ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ that symbolize the character of this bird.   Jamie Wyeth was so fascinated by the arrogance of the gull he used her to represent the ‘7 deadly sins’ anger, greed, envy, gluttony, pride, sloth and lust.  Wyeth focused on the behavior of each sin and found correlation in the life of the gulls.  In this series, the gulls portray human-sinners.  A perception that human character is reflected in nature.

Jamie Wyeth’s  ‘Pride’.  A gull displays it’s lobster catch for all to covet.

Pride by Jamie Wyeth

Being the pugnacious gulls they are, it may be difficult to imagine this bird symbolizing freedom in the Netherlands or able to attain a state bird status in Utah for its crop protecting abilities.  The larger gulls in particular are intelligent, inquisitive, resourceful and demonstrate  a highly developed social structure.

The gull however is an illusion of beauty and gracefulness.  She bathes regularly and has an elegant wingspan but do not be fooled, she has no manners.    She is a noisy bird filled with pirate tendencies but she has a sense of beauty and i’ve  enjoyed watching her family for a long time.

“Painting to me is constant searching.  I can see what I want, but I can’t get there, and yet you have to be open enough that if it goes another way, then let it go that way.”         Jamie Wyeth.


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