I borrow the wondrous phrase “hieroglyphics of gull tracks” from the great David Schetzline. I came across it a year ago in an obscure manuscript and it has never left my mind.
And it was on my mind this morning on the beach, on an extreme low tide, and there were hieroglyphics galore in the sand and gulls scratching them here and there as they cracked open mussels and clams and packed away at kelp. I followed their tracks for an hour, meandering among their messages and trying to decipher their mysterious meanings.
What if there was secret and important communications contained withing those scrawlings?
Gulls have the looks of writers more so than any other bird I routinely see near the ocean. Herons are more like painters and sanderlings like dancers and eagles like scientists and ospreys like long distance runners. As for crows, sheer ruffians. As for murres, hired guns.
I wished I had used the hieroglyphics of gulls prompt with students back in the long lost days when I was an English teacher, but I hadn’t yet come across the phrase or considered the images. I think we could have based an entire literary review on it. I sometimes miss employing that kind of inspiration with young writers. It was very much a part of my life for so many years. I’ve had to learn how to share these creative inspirations with others and have invented new ways of doing so.