My grandson reads me his report on the Farallones Marine Sanctuary.
He’s nervous cuz he knows I’ve got my own ideas. Starts reading me all
the names: gulls, murres, cormorants, auklets, pelicans, shearwaters,
diving Brown Boobies. I laugh at that one but don’t let him see.
I’m all for this conservation stuff, but find it hard to believe they
was ever hurting, those birds. In my days out there, that’s all there
was, all I saw day in day out…birds, birds and more birds.
“Grandpa, it’s one of the most sensitive marine environments on earth!”
I tell him, “Fine work, boy!” and scootch him into the kitchen to get a cookie.
My nose starts twitching, just thinking again of that freezing pile of
fish stinking, bird-crapped rocks. Damn Navy stationed me out there,
’40-’42. I ran a secret radar station for them. There were only a few
of us. We kept the lighthouse on, foghorns working, and the radio
Twenty-six miles of ocean between us and ‘Frisco, foggy most the time,
but winter, the air crisped up and there it was, the great city,
alive. The nights with the moon full were the worst, could almost hear
the parties coming down off the hills.
After Pearl, we were all itchy and red triggered. They started in with
blackouts and then there was nothing left to see. Just the silhouettes
of black edged birds, protecting their eggs, feathers in motion,
beating back against the cold west wind.