This story is about a photograph taken in Homer, Alaska, shared by a friend of mine, LA Holmes…
On a clear winter day, Cy and I loaded the “toter” Toyota pickup truck with our laundry for the weekly cleaning event. It was 2008 and we were living in a 8×12-foot cabin while building a 48-foot boat right next door to the building. For me, having a scheduled laundry day, a structured routine, was important.
After locking up the cabin, I looked across the drainage ditch that bordered the boat yard and noticed a lot of activity around my homemade bird feeder. Dozens of small birds, Pine Siskins and Red Poles, were scurrying around the feeder.
“Cy, get the camera,” I said. “I want to try feeding the birds. If you go up in the boat, I’ll cross the ditch and head over to the birds.” The camera was a Nikon D200, the one we used for killer whale research. It was set up with a 300mm lens that brought things in pretty close.
A fine and agreeable fellow, Cy climbed up onto the boat. As I headed toward the bird feeder I stopped by our stash of bird seed that we kept in a garbage can near the door to fill a small bag with sunflower seeds and millet.
When I approached the feeder, the birds fluttered away. I wasn’t worried, though. It doesn’t take creatures of the cold very long to come to food, especially if their eating perch is heated.
I sat down in the snow, grabbed some seeds with each hand and opened my palms to the sky.
After a minute or so, the birds returned. They landed on my sleeves, my fingers, my head, my legs and my boots, waiting for their turn to feed. After about two hours, we called it quits.
Cy took about 200 pictures that afternoon. It wasn’t hard to find the best of the group, and we promptly emailed it out to friends and family. My dad, sick with cancer, loved the photo and had an 8×10-inch copy printed and posted on the wall by his bed. Whenever we talked on the phone, he often described the birds’ flared wings, landing gear and postures with amazement and delight.
“See the one by your sleeve? He’s landing,” he’d say. “His wings…you can tell he’s already committed.”
Two months later, Dad passed away, right there, under the birds.
You know, the laundry can always wait.