Running the boat through a tight little gut late one afternoon, the low sun had the place lit up, with this skiff moored directly in front of the dark loom of an island.

I wanted to photograph what I was seeing, but the passage was shoal, and the first order of business was not going aground, so I passed by the skiff to get my camera ready. The flood tide was fortunately against me, so I killed the engine and let the flow slowly and silently take me back down to the skiff.

None of this was lost on the gull.

As I drew nearer, it hopped off the bow and began a slow strut back to the stern, keeping a wary eye on the approaching boat. Finally, it hopped onto the rear seat, next to the fisherman’s folded seaboots, waited as long as it could and then took off with the sound of my shutter.

The glint in this gull’s eye was what I was after as it embodied the larger wariness I was discovering around me back then – in both natural and human realms - in those early years of intense exploration.

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Meredith Ralston