It was a perfect summer day, with not a single cotton puff cloud in the sapphire sky. A gentle breeze scooted a few sloops across Balsam Bay. This was truly summer—-the days that everyone dreamed of when freezing gales of winter swept over the frozen inlets.
Colby scanned the beach for a familiar face. Yes! There she was - sunning herself on an outcrop of rocks. Colby's heart melted at her sleek, soft shape and slender legs. For weeks he had tried to win Cecilia's attention, but she'd been playing hard-to-get.
As Colby sauntered past the Dock Side Cafe, he noticed his reflection in the window. That one pesky tuft always stood straight up on top of his head like an Indian headdress. He put his head under the dripping faucet and plastered it down as best he could. Giving himself another quick check, he swaggered down the beach toward Cecilia.
His heart pounded in time with the clanging buoy, and the lump in his throat felt like he had swallowed a giant clam—shell and all. As a stone shifted beneath his feet, he hoped he didn't slip and make a complete fool of himself. Cecilia glanced at him as he approached. He could see the sparkle from the water reflected in her dark eyes. He opened his mouth, but the words wouldn't come out. He swallowed and tried again. "Ahhhk!"
Cecilia turned away and hopped off the rocks, meandering along the beach toward the lighthouse. She stooped occasionally to inspect a shell or piece of sea glass. Every once in a while, she'd peek over her shoulder and bat her black eyes at him.
Poor Colby! Girls knew how to get his feathers ruffled, but he was determined not to let this pigeon get away. He plucked a pink wild rose that grew beside a sun-bleached piece of driftwood and followed her footprints in the damp sand. He puffed out his chest, threw his shoulders back, and marched up to her as she played in the swishing waves.
Colby dropped the blossom at her feet. When the next wave swished across the sand, the flower floated around her toes. She picked it up by the stem and cocked her head.
Oh boy! Colby flapped his wings and fluttered his feet with joy. She liked him! She liked him! He splashed and danced around her, until the salt spray sparkled like a fountain. She liked him! With an inviting "Squawk," he called her to dance on the ocean's breeze. They soared and swooped and dived low above the rippling waves until they perched on the end of Fisherman's Wharf to coo softly to each other.
Today would be the perfect day for a picnic—not an ordinary picnic of snails or minnows — not even one of tasty morsels found in the burger parking lot. He must find a special delight for sweet Cecilia.
A chatter of voices revealed a family parading down the steps of the cafe to the shore. They carried an assortment of boxes and bags. The woman flapped a checkered cloth over a smooth spot on the beach, while the man opened an umbrella contraption. The children squealed as they raced through shallow waters along the emerging sandbar.
Colby's stomach growled as a waft of boiled lobsters floated by his nose. He turned his head this way and that as he observed the people. This could be interesting! Humans, especially tourists, could be so gullible. If he worked things right, he and his girl might have a feast fit for a king crab. Hopping close to Cecilia, he whispered in her ear.
Gliding out to a mound of barnacle-encrusted rocks, Colby got the children's attention with a cheery "Ayuh!" He then hopped down to the edge of a tidal pool and peered at the creatures beneath the shimmering surface. Just as he had hoped, the children's curiosity brought them farther away from the lunch on the beach.
"Mom! Dad! Come, and look at these funny prickly balls in the water! There are some pretty starfish, too."
Colby smiled, as only a sea gull can smile. His plan was enfolding just as he had planned. As the family explored the wonders of low tide, Colby and Cecilia fared sumptuously on a fine meal, served with melted butter and seasoned fries.
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