Seagulls on the sand

I’m on a plane once again and I close my eyes and look back to the summer that has just ended.

I’m a summer person – I suppose due to being born in Mozambique where we had warm weather almost all year long – so I long for Spring and Summer, strongly dislike autumn and really dread the winter months. In April and May I feel that delightful expectation of the summer months to come, and September, even if the weather is usually very pleasant, brings a nostalgic feeling of something good that will be ending in a very short time.

The last six months brought some changes at home, and to my son Pedro most of all. As I wrote on my post “A radiant smile” this was a decisive year for him, the year of so many challenges to face and overcome. At eighteen, he passed his motorbike driving exams and most important of all, he passed all his final high school exams and entered university. He also fell in love and has been living his first true love story. Just the other day we were talking and he admitted he will always look back to 2017 as one of the best years of his life, a decisive, unforgettable one.

As for my eldest son Afonso, he did extremely well at university and back in June the two of us had dinner together to celebrate it. That’s when he confessed to still being in love with his former girlfriend, with whom he had broken up some months before; according to him, they had being going out for a long time (more than three years) and he thought they were too young to form such a serious attachment. Alas, the heart has its reasons and that evening he had me worried. When he told me he was going to get her back I fervently hoped she would be in the same mood. As it happened she was, and they went on to live a fantastic summer together that included a romantic trip to several Azores islands. Their took their backpacks and camped in beautiful secluded places such as the Fajã dos Cubres, on the Island of S. Jorge, recently named as one of the seven wonders of Portugal in the category “Villages by the sea”. Whenever he called I could tell from his voice that he was having a great time, and I was so happy for them both. Life is so wonderful when you are young and in love (I am an incorrigible romantic, I know).

As for me, I also had very happy, fulfilling moments. Flashes come to my mind as I picture myself sitting at the Café de La Paix in Paris on a warm summer late afternoon and sipping a delicious Kir Royale; having dinner with friends on a terrace in Lisbon on a warm summer night (unfortunately something that has become rare in Lisbon as evenings are usually cool and windy); lying on the beach and feeling that delicious sensation of the sun on my body; having a crazy “tuk tuk” ride down the castle hill; swimming in my beloved Madeira sea and sipping a drink while sitting on a terrace after a day on the beach; watching Afonso and his friends sing karaoke at an August wedding we went to and laughing out loud at their brilliant performance; and I could name a few more fantastic moments that of course are only possible in summer, when the weather is inviting you to be outside.

Last Sunday I went to the beach by myself, as in September my friends say they’ve had enough of the beach (a feeling I never share). But I didn’t really care, as being on the beach by myself somehow feels very peaceful. I sat there looking at the sea and at the few people there, and I breathed deeply so as to inhale the invigorating scent of the sea air.

The sun was warm on my face and body; there was a light breeze and I really felt happy. It was one of those moments when you need nothing else, you are contented. And suddenly I saw them, first one, then two, then a few more: the seagulls were flying in circles and they finally landed on the sand, very near from where I was, totally unafraid of the people there. They walked majestically, so elegant and harmonious, looking for bread crumbs left on the sand or simply staying there, poised and serene, looking at the sea.

The moment was pure magic. I forgot the nostalgic thoughts of the coming autumn and concentrated on this beach scenery that I love: the wet sand, the surf of the crashing waves, the greenish blue of the sea beyond and the clear blue of the sky. And the white and brown and grey of the elegant seagulls.

I recalled the old Portuguese saying “seagulls on land, storm at sea” but felt this time it could not be true as the weather was great, so the seagulls must be have been there for some other mysterious reason; and somehow I felt so grateful, because their presence contributed for a perfect moment.

Against my will I stood up to leave. As I walked towards the end of another summer weekend, towards a week with a full agenda that would include a hectic business trip, I looked back trying to recapture my perfect moment. And as I saw them there, so beautiful, without worries or stress, with no attachments of any sort, taking flight whenever they felt inclined to so so, for a brief moment I wished I were one of those seagulls on the sand, so that I could spread my wings and fly away.