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Issue 13 – Christ the King 2022


Seagull Island

On class in America.


As the boat approached the island, we saw the house. But we saw the birds first, and smelled them: thousands of seagulls, who appeared to have turned this islet in the middle of a ten thousand-acre lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into a kind of offshore perch cannery. Somewhere beneath the flock, just beyond the house, was a Bobcat tractor, seemingly abandoned. A more fanciful imagination (my oldest daughter’s, for example) might believe that both the building and the equipment belonged to the birds.

Our companions told us the real story of Seagull Island, as it’s called by the locals (including the summer-only residents, doctors and lawyers from Chicago who are ignorant of its origins). A few years ago a man who owned an excavating business in the next town over somehow purchased the island; in the middle of winter he had driven his tractor across the frozen lake, cleared about half an acre’s worth of trees, and built the cottage. But he had not reckoned on the birds, who in the spring almost immediately descended upon the island, where, far from their natural predators and embowered by their own prey, they were monarchs of all they surveyed. The owner soon gave up on the project. He never returned for the Bobcat.

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About the author

Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is editor of The Lamp.