This gorgeous Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) was photographed by my friend Nancy Wracher, in Durango, Colorado. I have never actually met Nancy, but the story of how I came to share her fantastic photos is a great one.
My dear friend, Andie, grew up going camping with her family (mother, father, and little brother, Jason). Andie’s family went camping with another family (Nancy Wracher’s) with whom they were good friends. On one trip, the kids entertained themselves by finding pine cones and throwing them around in the woods. After awhile, they all realized that Jason was nowhere to be found. He had wandered off in search of his OWN pine cones and got lost. They called the forest ranger who found him after several scary, tense hours.
It was during this camping trip that Jason told his family, as they sat around the campfire, that he had peed in the woods. Jason said that his “tail” had been cold. He was about 4 years old. Andie thought it was time to correct Jason on the proper name of his peeing appendage, and told him that it was really called a “peanuts.” Andie was about 7 years old. Priceless!
Andie and Jason’s mother died two years later, and their father passed away at the age of 45.
The families lost touch over time, but in 2007 something extraordinary happened. Jason received an email, out of the blue, from Nancy Wracher! Nancy and her husband were wondering what ever became of the kids after both parents – their friends – had died. Nancy “found” Jason on the internet, and Jason put Nancy in touch with Andie as well. What a happy reunion!
Andie and Nancy have enjoyed catching up with one another and exchange emails frequently. It turns out that Nancy had some old Kodak slides, including several taken on one of their camping trips so long ago. She sent them to Andie. Isn’t that just wonderful?
Nancy is a fantastic photographer, and now I enjoy exchanging emails with Nancy too! The way I see it, the love of nature and the outdoors is the thread that has tied these families together. That bond has survived to this day, and now Andie and her brother Jason have the treasure of another family with whom they shared such a special time in their lives. [happy sigh]
I have to sign off by saying that Nancy and I both puzzled over the ID of this hawk – I thought it was a Cooper’s and Nancy thought it was a Sharp-shinned. After consulting 5 field guides, I have to say that I think Nancy is right, based on my estimate of the hawk’s size. Kudos to Nancy!