The pigeon feeder

We can find interesting stories behind very ordinary activities.


In front of JR Yamashina Station there’s a small open area with some benches. The other day I sat on one of those benches to rest for a few minutes. Beside me a middle-aged man was feeding pieces of rice crackers to a single pigeon.

The man would bite off a tiny piece of cracker and then toss it to the ground near the pigeon. The pigeon walked slowly with a bad limp. Its left foot was misshapen, probably the result of an injury. Each time it ate, the man said something to encourage it, like one might speak to a very small child. Several times after it ate, the pigeon hobbled toward the man and stood very close to his leg.

The man seemed to know a lot about pigeons, and he obviously cared for the one that he was feeding. He said that he always carried rice crackers wherever he went. He explained that he’d grown up in the countryside, and as a boy he’d kept about 20 pigeons as pets. As he spoke of his memories, especially about his pigeons, I saw a faraway look in his eyes. For a brief moment he was back in his boyhood. I’m sure I could have learned much more of his life story if I’d been able to spend more time with him.

I’ve always believed that everyone has a story, and I know from experience that a lot of people are happy to tell their stories to total strangers. My brief encounter with a nice man feeding an injured pigeon proved again that we can find interesting stories behind very ordinary activities.

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