W&N watercolour in my Moleskine 200gsm watercolour Sketch-book
“You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”
From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull
After having just read “Jonathan Livingstone Seagull” (I know, I’m a late bloomer!), and the Seagulls that often fly over my garden in Tarlton, South Africa (600km from the coast!), I’ve been inspired to do some Seagull sketches again – I’ve always been enamoured by these birds, especially their plight of constantly being trapped with plastic and metal rings around their necks and feet. It’s a passion that has been lying dormant for some time and awakened by this wonderful little book again.
Whenever I go down to the coast, one of the highlights of my visit is feeding the seagulls. They look at one with definite, calculated intention, and they seem to anticipate your next move before you even know what’s it’s going to be, snatching the food as it leaves your fingers. I also love the way they land right next to you, so close that you can see the pupil in their eye, without any apparent fear, yet poised for instant flight should you make an ominous move.
One time, a seagull landed next to me within touching distance, the plastic ring of some soda can wrapped around its one leg. I reached out slowly to try and catch it, and it lifted into the air, staying just centimeters from my grasping hand, landing again as soon as I retreated. I tried to grab it quickly, and once again it lifted off, staying just inches away from my hand, landing again as soon as it was safe. I fed it some bread and watched with great pain in my heart as it eventually lifted off and took flight over the ocean.
But here’s the thing – I travel down to Ballito, on the North Coast of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, a few times during the year, but I have to go to Durban or further North up the coast to find the seagulls – there are no seagulls in Ballito! And yet they are up here in Gauteng, 600km from the coast, a mystery I still intend solving!