sailboats and seagulls

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Earlier this year I read an utterly fascinating book, A Time for Everything, a historical fiction by multiple award-winning Norwegian author Karl O. Knausgård, a story unlike any I’ve ever read before. This is how the publisher describes his most unusual story:

Antinous Bellori, a boy of eleven, loses his way in the woods in the mountains behind his home. Unseen, he stumbles upon two glowing beings, an event that leads him to devote the rest of his life to the study of angels. Bellori reinterprets moments throughout the Bible where men confront angels: the expulsion from the garden, Cain and Abel, Lot in Sodom, Noah’s isolation before the flood, Ezekiel’s visions. . . .  Through his profound glimpses, Karl Knausgaard—an extraordinary storyteller and thinker—explores with spellbinding insight how the nature and roles of these intermediaries between man and the divine have shifted throughout history.

If I had to sum it up in a sentence I would say it is about the nature and evolution of angels and what day-to-day life might have been like for the various Bible characters mentioned above. And without spoiling the story, if you want to read it, I will just say that after reading it I will never look at seagulls quite the same way again.

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Saturday evening we went down to the beach for a hot dog and a sunset. As the various seagulls came by to see if we were offering to share any of our food — we weren’t, it’s not good for them, or us, for that matter — I studied them closely and kept asking them if it was true, what Knausgård says of them. Tim kept reminding me it was fiction. He doesn’t yet appreciate the power of this amazing storyteller, nor will he unless he reads it for himself. But he probably won’t because I’ve chewed his ear off about it for a couple of months now! The seagulls only looked at me as if the question I was asking them was far too personal and none of my business.

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

While I was busy photographing the uncooperative beings an alluring schooner appeared on the horizon. I’m pretty sure it was the Mystic Whaler. We watched her approach to the Thames River, spellbound. Many years ago my aunt and I sailed on her for a two-night cruise to Block Island…

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

There were other boats around, too. The Hel-Cat II, with the dubious distinction of being New England’s largest party fishing boat. Sport fishing, that is. And on board there was a party well under way, even before she reached Long Island Sound, music and revelry blaring across the water…

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Then there was the ferry, coming in from Long Island…

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then a smaller sailboat appeared, hugging the shore, stirring up memories for Tim of sailing with his brother in Provincetown Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

As the sailboat approached New London Harbor Lighthouse, across the Thames River, the light came on for the evening, “three seconds white alternating with three seconds darkness, with red sector.”

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then the little sailboat passed by the setting sun. Sweet dreams, dear sailors!

8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach
8.20.11 ~ Eastern Point Beach

After sunset, on the way home, we saw an amazing sight, a flock of about two dozen great egrets resting in the trees in the middle of the salt marsh, seemingly all spread out to be equidistant from each other, so far apart they wouldn’t all fit in one picture… At first glance we thought someone had draped white cloths on the trees. The pictures are disappointing…

8.20.11 ~ Groton, Connecticut
8.20.11 ~ Avery Pond, Groton, Connecticut

But it was a sight to behold and a surprise ending to a lovely evening!

Some believe seagulls embody the souls of sailors lost at sea. Karl Ove Knausgård has some other ideas…

26 thoughts on “sailboats and seagulls”

  1. Lovely pictures.
    As for seagulls – aggressive, scavengers, thieves, muggers, pests, mobs… generally speaking, I’m not a fan.

  2. Man O Man O Man, I love your photographs!

    And when you said, “And without spoiling the story, if you want to read it, I will just say that after reading it I will never look at seagulls quite the same way again”…I added the book to my must-read list.

    1. Thank you, Laurie! I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the book – so far as I can tell it is the only one translated into English for now, and it is available on Kindle, too. 🙂

  3. Those seagulls are so austere. We went to Acadia National Park for vacation this year and I took about 50 pictures of seagulls owning the rocks. They let me get quite close. Jane

    1. They are very comfortable around humans and do seem to own the rocks. Very mysterious creatures, they seem to be carrying around a few secrets. There is a haunting beauty to their calls, they seem to reflect the ever-changing moods of the sea… I’m not surprised you came home with so many pictures of them! When I was a child we went camping in Acadia National Park – wonderful memories!

  4. Hi,
    Lovely photo’s, and what a fantastic afternoon, it is always wonderful to go down to the water and the watch the world go by, you just never know what you will see.

    1. Thank you, Mags! It is wonderful and there is always something a little different on the horizon, or when the tide is in or out. If Hurricane Irene keeps barreling towards us I hope I can get some interesting pictures after she passes…

  5. The shot of the egrets was perfect, actually- they do that around here too. Like you I have tried to capture the sense of all those large birds concentrated, yet spaced.
    Recently I got to spend a peaceful evening at the Kenosha harbor of Lake Michigan…close as I can get to “ocean”- will have to do for now. As the evening skin softened, a fog rolled in and shrouded the sailboats. It was lovely. I’m going to look for that book, too! Thanks for the great post!

    1. Thanks, Melissa, it’s nice to know that this is normal behavior for the egrets!

      I think it was about ten years ago when we took an ancestor-hunting research trip through New York state. We had never seen any of the Great Lakes before so I was very excited when our travels took us near Lake Ontario. When we got to the shore my first reaction was that it looked like the ocean, but it smelled like a pond! I was very impressed that there was water as far as the eye could see, all the way to the horizon. So I can imagine how lovely the sight of your fog shrouded sailboats was!

      Please let me know what you think of the book if you read it!

  6. I adore seagulls. Their dignity, their grace, their earth-bound foolishness, their air-borne cleverness, their greed, their silliness, their loud, echoing cries…I can watch them forever!

    We see egrets on the seashore, carefully lifting their yellow feet (the ones you saw: did they have them?) over the waves.

    I seriously love these photos.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Aubrey! I love seagulls, too. The seashore would not be the same without their calls and cries. They seem to be telling stories of the things they’ve seen in their travels…

      The egrets we saw were not close enough for me to see their feet. However, I took a picture of one last year ( and it doesn’t seem to have yellow feet. I’m sure there must be many varieties of them!

  7. I just googled Bellori – as I am reading Knausgård’s book ( and I am Norwegian as he is too.) So when googling bellori to find out if he DID write a book – I did not find anything – he wrote books about artists ! 🙂 but goggled pointed me to your delicious blog. So glad to meet you. Looking forward to read the last chapter on seagulls 🙂 ( And I have met angels – but not as physical as Knausgård describes them – just an imprint in the air, a vast change in the energy, and impressions of colors and wings.

    1. Hi Leelah, welcome to my blog! How wonderful that a google search led you here to a 9-year-old post. 🙂 My memory is so poor I’m struggling to remember what Knausgård wrote about the gulls. Perhaps I need to read the book again. I do remember being very enchanted with it. I’m so glad to meet you, too. I love Norway, my 3rd-great-grandfather came from Brevik, Telemark, Norway, and I finally got to go to Norway in May of 2015, the trip of a lifetime. I’ve never seen a more beautiful place, and I will cherish the memories forever.

      1. BREVIK! yes! how fun, Barbara, when my parents owned a summerplace near the see, we always passed through Brevik – and the Brevid-bridge was the sign that we were getting close to our place. Yes it IS beautiful indeed!

        1. Oh, I know that feeling! My husband’s grandparents had a summer place by the sea on Cape Cod. They let us stay there with our three kids for two weeks every summer. After traveling for two hours from home we would have to take the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal to get there. Everyone perked up when we crossed the bridge. 🙂

          If you’d like to see my pictures of Brevik I posted them here: We accidently went over the new bridge there.

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