Here was this auburn-splashed congregation of arbors, each with a separate visual character, watching over the quiet river. And there, introduced to me by the crunching of late October leaves, was the portly photographer. Clad in a lilac collared shirt, iron-pressed alabaster vest barely holding in an oddly disproportionate pouch of belly, and matching alabaster pants and shoes, the gent couldn’t be missed. He was armed with an elaborate camera and telephoto-like lens setup, complete with tourist neck strap. This effort all orchestrated in hopes to capture the essence of one of natures most hallowed and sought-after manifestations… The seagull.
Yes, there he was, a dime-store Great Gatsby character seemingly hell bent on capturing the winged creature mid flight, or lightly dragging his pristine white boat shoes through the dead leaves to get the rare still shot. As a pair of the greyish- white beaked fowls perched on the stone wall, he drew closer, camera held up to his tilted head, cocked sideways. No doubt he was ready for action. Almost as if sensing that this being was the symbol of antagony, the one closest darted away to the middle of the stream. As he continued to inch towards the second bird, craning his neck in visibly unnatural positions, the seagull had a look on its face was if to say, “you know I’m a seagull, right?”
The portly photographer desperately attempted an action shot as the bird flew away, violently pressing his finger down on the camera button, adjusting the lens frantically, but to no avail. The man in his elaborate Monday-afternoon best walked away dejectedly.
I turned my attention back to the book, and imagined someone was documenting my behaviour.
“There he was, a dull plaid shirt-wearing young man, with a black ball cap barely revealing evidence of a head. He was reading some book, with a pair of white earphones in at the same time; seemingly trying to escape all of his present senses. He looked up from his book intermittently, giving long, thoughtful stares into the ripples of the river, and flashing long glances at the old couple sitting down outside the tea room. Whatever he did seemed secretive and careful; he kept his thick black back pack close to his person on the picnic table. It seemed he was not able to sit and focus for any long period of time, constantly twitching, letting out a movement of chill, looking around aimlessly. Whatever he was seeking, he seemed sure that he wouldn’t find it here.”
I ear-marked my book, packed it into my bag and walked back in the direction from where I came.