|Looking into the outside - from the winter to the spring. Photo credit: Nancy Shobe|
A friend of mine, Rebecca, constructed the most amazing coop. She gathered recycled boards, windows, and a door and built her coop in her backyard. Every time I visit her, I'm in awe of her finished endeavor. It's not just that the coop is the perfect little house, a house that could become a future mother-in-law getaway (if it was well-scrubbed) or a tucked away artist's studio. What amazes me is that Rebecca constructed it herself. She donned her hip belt and adopted a Rosie the Riveter's attitude. It's as if "I Can Do It," is written in subliminal messaging all over the coop.
What Rebecca doesn't know, and to which I doubt I will ever confess, is that I often tiptoe inside her coop while visiting her, camera in hand, and snap photos of her eleven or so engaging chickens. They prance around, hen dancing to some invisible beat. A hen has often laid a warm and recent egg and that egg sits like a golden prize in her hand-built, wall-to-wall nesting box.
But, what captivates me most is the view from the coop. Inside the all consuming darkness, I look out of the four-paned window and find a magical world of oaks, orange-blossomed nasturtium and long forgotten garden "things". Right before me, is a painting-perfect portrait of Rebecca's life: the sturdiness of the oak, the vibrance of the orange flowers, and the tradition, history and storytelling of the old and rusty things.
I feel very fortunate to have her as friend.
Friends are often remembered in ways other than the visualization of their faces. Perhaps it's their hands, the way she sat on your couch knitting her grandson another sweater. Or, maybe it's the scent of the freshly-baked apple pie that alights on your senses as you walk into her house. Or, maybe it's the scratchiness of his unshaved morning beard against your sensitive face.
I once had a friend who doesn't even know he is my friend. He sat on the airplane next to me while I was journeying back to the "homeland" to visit my dying father. We talked about life and death and what it meant to us. We talked about losing loved ones. We both had tears in our eyes as we filled the hours with a kind of partnered talk that one can almost only find with strangers--a baring of our souls, souls that are usually intensely guarded with our own immediate loved ones. Even though I can't tell you his name and I have no idea where he lives, he was a great friend to me and my heart will always be grateful to him.
As this is the last day of winter (and also National Poultry Day), I think it's important to remember those people who warm your heart and bring you spring. I admire Rebecca for her strength and courage. I respect her for taking a month sabbatical every year to pursue and refine her love of painting. I treasure the fact that I was the first person other than the parents to hold her gorgeous newborn baby daughter. And, I am thankful that she allowed me to sit with her for days waiting for her goat to give birth. I even appreciate the way that we can squabble and still be friends.
Nearly all the ways that Rebecca has touched my life has been captured by me in color and black-and-white photographs. But, the evidence of her presence in my life is so much greater. She has shown me that with strength, conviction, and a can-do attitude, the view from the window is almost always spring.