The Man with the Bread Crumbs

Wandering a city with a camera and telephoto lens opens the world up in different ways.

If I have my camera on hand, I immediately feel my creative juices flowing. I notice the intricacies of my surroundings, I pay attention to the people amidst me, and I’m infinitely more aware of how beautiful this city is that I call home.

During the last couple days of blue skies, sunny streets, and above freezing temperatures, I’ve been taking advantage of the bustling city and have been venturing out with my camera and lenses. On a typical day I try to avoid the really busy parts of the city like Nathan Phillip Square and stick to the side streets and residential areas, but on such a beautiful day I decided to make an exception.

After a few minutes of looking and wandering, I focussed my attention on the flock of pigeons in the corner that were being ignored by the merry group of skaters. I moved in slowly, trying to gain the trust of the birds who, in all honesty, didn’t seem that bothered by my presence. As I raised my camera and started taking pictures, I couldn’t help but notice the different personalities of each pigeon. Maybe I was anthropomorphizing these creatures, but they all seemed to have their own individual way about them; I couldn’t help but smile at their wonderful differences.

A few minutes into my excursion, a middle aged man approached. We made eye contact and he smiled a gentle smile, then raised a bag of bread crumbs, and motioned to the birds. I smiled back and nodded, knowing what was about to come next.

With the first toss, the pigeons entered a frenzy, most flying towards the crumbs, some staying back waiting for the inevitable second toss; this wasn’t their first rodeo, they knew how it went. Toss after toss, I kept my shutter in motion, capturing the pigeon’s flight and fight for the pile of crumbs. It was spectacular!

Then the most magical thing occurred. The man placed some crumbs in his palm, stretched his arm out in front of him, and waited. Some of the braver pigeons flew up, landed on his arm, and enjoyed their feast. Realizing there was no danger, others followed suit. The man’s smile throughout was kind and gentle, filled with childlike excitement.

Once the bread crumbs were finished, I approached him and asked if he wanted to see some of the photos I captured. His eyes lit up at the pictures of the pigeons in flight. We talked for a few minutes, and through our conversation I learned that he is a refugee from Tibet and has lived in Toronto for three years. He loves the people here, and enjoys what the city has to offer. I asked if he feeds the pigeons frequently, and he said he did whenever he had leftover bread crumbs. He said he feels it’s important to have compassion for all of earth’s creatures. After a few moments of conversation, we shook hands, told each other to have a wonderful day, and went our separate ways. I couldn’t help but feel connected in some way to this stranger I had just met; he was so open, caring, and had such a beautiful outlook on life that I’ll never forget.

Wandering a city with a camera and telephoto lens opens the world up in different ways. You notice the intricacies of your surroundings, you notice the beauty of the city you’re in, and you pay more attention the the people amidst you; and sometimes those people open up to you, and change your life in a little way, which is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

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