birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


The wound was not deep, which was great. Also, it missed my spine.

I was standing on the beach with the wind to my face, so I could hear that the guys up the beach were yelling at me, I just couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. Then I fell, which I remember much more clearly than the hit to my back, and when I looked back up over my shoulder I could see the elephant seal rearing up over me.

Adult male elephant seals weigh over 8,000 pound, but luckily enough I’d been attacked by a sub-adult, who probably only weighed only 2-3,000 pounds. Also I was rescued by the grad students who’d been yelling at me from up the beach, who came running towards me banging on pieces of wood and metal to scare off the attacker.

I had been taking a class on animal behavior that had bevies of undergraduates working as observers and data collectors amid an elephant seal hare at Ano Nuevo. Elephant seals come ashore for several months to breed, during which time they do only the basics: birthing, mating, fighting, and defecating. They don’t even eat. It’s impressive, but also gross and sometimes scary.

It is the only time in my life that I have been rescued from a life threatening situation by men.

Goat Soup