Seagull Shopper

My wife and I drove down to Westfield Mission Valley today to take advantage of an expiring coupon: One free pastry from Panera. She chose the Kitchen Sink Cookie—so large two hands are required to hold it. Walking, while she consumed, we encountered a seagull so squawky that it more or less honked like a goose. The thing prattled about looking for food, presumably, making no attempt to fly off as shoppers passed by. I wondered if he might be wing-injured. Annie wanted to share some cookie but rightly worried that the one sweet thing wouldn’t be good food for the other sweet thing. Yeah, we found the bird endearing as it weaved about shoppers.

I brought Leica Q2 Monochrom to the mall and used the camera to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 2:32 p.m. PDT. We briefly continued, then I stopped and asked Annie if she minded my going back for more photos. Happily munching, she motioned me on. As I approached, a couple with a stroller stopped to gawk at the bird, seemingly unaware that they had cornered the thing between a store’s window and sidewalk sign. The gull’s only escape route was inside the shop, and that is where it briefly fled.

The man and woman stood spellbound, and oblivious, which prevented my getting in position for a shot of the bird deep within the store. Finally, they moved along! In the companion portrait, you can also see my reflection in the glass. Sitting at the back of the shop is an employee (or owner, for all I know). He made no attempt to shoo out the feathered visitor, making me wonder if the gull waddles in often—or perhaps the dude is just easy-going. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 640, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 2:34 p.m.

I walked away, returning to Annie and moving along; our adventure wasn’t over, however. A minute or two later, something looking like folded currency caught my attention, and I reached down for it—lifting my head to see if maybe someone had just accidentally dropped it. But no one walked any meaningfully close distance ahead of us. My hand held a $20 bill, which I asked Annie to take so that my attention could return to the people about us. Surely somebody would want to recover lost cash.

We circled the mall, looking for signs of anybody frantically searching for the lost bill. “What if the money belongs to a kid,” I chimed, repeating the amount aloud. Annie corrected me. She held two Twenties! Hearing that, I suggested circling around again, and we did. The place wasn’t overly crowded with shoppers, and the Westfield plaza isn’t expansive. We would have seen someone searching for the money. Nope.

We returned to where was the bird drama, but the seagull was nowhere to be seen or heard.