I stood amongst my 5th grade classmates outside of the bus quietly. There was an energy between everyone, the kind that only arose on the days of field trips. Mrs. Saruwatari approached the new girl in the class, pointed to me, and the two of them approached me.
“Sara, this is Brittney. It looks like neither of you have a partner to sit with on the bus. Will you sit with each other?” We nodded.
Everyone boarded the bus and we took our seats. The bus started taking our class to our local Audubon Nature Preserve, and Brittney and I started talking. She had just moved to a farm in rural Loma, Colorado from Grand Lake, the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. We swapped stories from Girl Scouts and talked about our families and pets. She applied her color-changing lip gloss, and I took a photo of her on my small family camera.
We got off the bus and were led by volunteers to a gazebo where several injured wild birds were caged. They held the birds still and showed the class why the birds were there, and how they were helping them heal. Most of the class was bored, wondering what the purpose of the field trip was — they all had higher expectations. I, however, had no expectations, since I didn’t even know who I would be sitting with on the bus. But I had started to make a friend, and the love of photography and wildlife that my grandmother instilled in me sparked great excitement over this trip. As the class began wandering the paths through the grasses of the nature preserve, I pulled out my camera and started looking at the little birds surrounding me through my plastic viewfinder.
Lunchtime came, and Brittney and I sat on a boulder in the middle of the fields to eat our packed lunch, chatting about the birds we were watching. I doubt she was excited about the birds like I was, and she certainly thought it was strange that I took pictures of everything I saw, but we both enjoyed each other’s company. We boarded the bus and got to know each other during the entire drive back.
Brittney and I live six hours apart now. She’s pre-vet at a college in Nebraska and working part time at an animal hospital, and I’m here. We both get busy, but whether it’s by car, train, or FaceTime, we always find ways to see each other from time to time.
- When did you become interested in photography, and why?
Briefly before this story took place, in 4th grade! My parents bought a Canon PowerShot that they never used, and my grandmother was a photographer and encouraged me to learn how to use it. (Just because I’ve been shooting for 11 years doesn’t mean I’m good!)
2. Where did the interest in birds come from?
Nowhere in particular! My grandmother, the same one who got me interested in photography, was also a huge influence in my appreciation for nature. She always gave me ecology identification books and would take me outside to spot birds, bugs, flowers, and whatever else we could find. I always had a certain affinity for anything that could fly, though.