again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but
eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that
mattered, but flight. More than anything else. Jonathan
Livingston Seagull loved to fly.
This kind of thinking, he found, is not the way to make
one's self popular with other birds. Even his parents were
dismayed as Jonathan spent whole days alone, making
hundreds of low-level glides, experimenting.
He didn't know why, for instance, but when he flew at
altitudes less than half his wingspan above the water, he
could stay in the air longer, with less effort. His glides
ended not with the usual feet-down splash into the sea,
but with a long flat wake as he touched the surface with
his feet tightly streamlined against his body. When he
began sliding in to feet-up landings on the beach, then
pacing the length of his slide in the sand, his parents
were very much dismayed indeed.
"Why, Jon, why?" his mother asked. "Why is it so hard
to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can't you leave
low flying to the pelicans, the alhatross? Why don't you
eat? Son, you're bone and feathers!"
"I don't mind being bone and feathers mom. I just want
to know what I can do in the air and what I can't, that's
all. I just want to know."
"See here Jonathan " said his father not unkindly.
"Winter isn't far away. Boats will be few and the surface
fish will be swimming deep. If you must study, then study
food, and how to get it. This flying business is all very
well, but you can't eat a glide, you know. Don't you forget