"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Story behind the Photo

I spent last weekend in Homer,  at the end of  Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.   Homer is a picturesque little town, known for its spectacular scenery, great fishing, and a four and a half mile long tongue of gravel called the Homer Spit that sticks out into Kachemak Bay, effectively demarcating the bay from Cook Inlet.  

The Spit is the site of boat harbors, hotels, condos, tourist shops, charter fishing offices, fish cleaning stations, a ferry dock, and campgrounds for tents and RVs.   I've made sporadic visits to Homer since 1964 and have watched the growth and commercialization of the area, and while I'm glad it offers employment for many, I kind of miss the old days when a person could buy a whole king crab from a dockside net for $5.00.  Total, not per pound.

Well, those days are long gone and now Homer is known (for a certain interest group)  for the arrival of shorebirds and sandhill cranes.

My purpose was to photograph those birds--as many as I could find, wherever I could find them.  In that pursuit, I made several drives on and off the Spit during the course of Saturday.

The weather on the Spit was beautiful and breezy.   Scattered showers rolled across the onshore town, creating some magnificent lighting conditions on the Spit.   A low-lying rainbow over the town caught my eye and I stopped for a photo.

Another icon of the Spit is a tavern called the Salty Dawg.   Here's a rare photo of the Salty Dawg with NO tourists blocking the view!

Later that afternoon, I was once again driving towards the end of the Spit, when I caught a glimpse of some old and weathered piling off to my right.   I've seen them many times, but something was different today.   I found a place to turn around,which was not easy because in the area, the narrow road is lined with guardrails.     That accomplished, I found a tiny spot to pull off and park.   I'm not at all sure it was legal, and in the days of heavy tourism yet to come, I'm certain I would have been told to move on.

But, I grabbed a camera and started walking back to the piling a quarter-mile away, staying on the road level, rather than the beach below.  As I neared my destination, I saw someone riding a mule, leading a second mule and a dog, coming towards the piling.

Oh no, I thought.   They're going to leave tracks through the artsy-fartsy  photo I had in mind.   I hurried--just short of running--to get a photo before the group got there.

What I had in mind.

And then, because I was there, watched as a lady rode her mule, leading another mule, through the pilings.

I scarcely  had time to realize the possibilities when she made a large u-turn and returned from whence she came.

The photo.

In a matter of moments, what I thought would ruin my photo turned into a wonderful shot in the peculiar sepia light brought by on-shore storms and rainbows.

And then, the beach was once again deserted.

The venue.

For me, it was once again a learning episode along the lines of making lemonade out of lemons.

But, that isn't the end of the story by any means.   When I got back to my car, she and her mules (and don't forget about the dog) were parallel to me on the beach and I walked over to show her the photo. 

She told me her grandfather was a birder and had a friend in Moose Pass, where I live, and he would go visit the friend to find a particular bird.

The piqued my interest.   That I had to find out.  What bird?   His name rang a bell, but I could not put it in context.

She gave me her e-mail address so I could send a copy of the photo.

When I left Homer, I stopped to visit long-time friends in Kasilof.   They have horses and I knew they would love the photo.

In the conversation, my Kasilof friend recognized the mule lady's name and said she had grown up with their granddaughter, and were inseparable in childhood!

Sometimes,  things that appear to be coincidences astound me.  Sometimes, I don't believe in simple coincidences.


  1. Yet another WOW post, one that brings back many memory images of Homer, and specifically the Spit, and makes me ponder .. "Are there coincidences?" It's almost as though the lady had intuition that a photographer would be at the pilings and she was going to contribute a particular photo. Then, her grandfather had a friend in Moose Pass, then our Kasilof friends had a granddaughter who grew up with her. And, yes, over the years the Spit has changed. I remember when I came back from salmon fishing once, skunked, and bought three salmon from another fisherman on a boat for $10 for the three fish. Good ol' days! Thanks for the memories!! Smiles and hugs, Patti and Cap

  2. Coincidences? Sure. God working in Anonymity? Who knows. The deal is this : Explore the threads open to you and see where they go. I can't imagine you not knowing another birder (the one the mule lady's grandfather would visit in Moose Pass) living in your small town / village. Are we to assume the mule lady lives in Homer. Nice you got her e-mail address. Unravel this. Smiles from Russian Siberia .. Cap and Patti

    Patti said "I don't think that Gullible has always been a birder." Well? Have you always been a birder? Or is this a late-in-life interest?

  3. We two totally forgot to acknowledge that magnificent, low-lying rainbow. Neither of us have ever seen such a phenomenon. A rainbow requires sun passing through water and being so low it is amazing that a rainbow could be generated. More Smiles .. Cap and Patti.

  4. Love your story, Jeanne. I don’t believe in coincidences, fate, or luck. I believe in divinely orchestrated circumstances. For what? Who knows, but maybe someday all of the puzzle pieces will fit together and you’ll know why then. Thanks for sharing your intriguing story with us.

    Pam Roseveare