In 1956, Vasil Tashkovski came to Syracuse, New York alone, as a sixteen-year-old boy, a runaway who escaped the Iron Curtain fleeing Communist Yugoslavia for Greece, an incredibly dangerous journey that led him to a refugee camp where he lived for a year while waiting for permission from the American Consulate to live his dream. It is the story of legend – the boy who dreamed of being an American.
He was my father. Dad married an American girl and had three American daughters with whom he only spoke English. Yes, he helped many Macedonians from his village come to this country including his own brother and his family, and you can argue that his life’s purpose was to help them. But if this is true, then the desire was fueled by a belief that these others would see what he saw – opportunity, liberty and freedom to live an authentic life in the greatest country in the world.
To just be. Dad was always there for us. Always healthy and strong. I truly thought he was indestructible – until he got cancer and suddenly passed away. I mean, I just never thought about a time that he wouldn’t be with us. He was seventy-nine. It happened last week, so the wound is fresh and raw. There is never enough time with the ones you love.
Eagles are currently wintering in Syracuse. About seventy at last count. It seems like the most obtuse idea. For many years, Onondaga Lake has been the number one most polluted lake in the nation and yet our national bird is here living off fish from said lake, with families in tow soaring around in all their glory, wonder and perfection.
It is simply amazing – and ironic to see these majestic creatures here now. I don’t think I had EVER seen an eagle in real life before this moment. Our national bird! It feels like they are here for Dad. I like to think they are. And that Vasil Tashkovski is soaring with them. I know he is.
You can park at Destiny Mall and see the eagles in the trees across the railroad tracks or drive to Onondaga Lake Parkway in Liverpool, New York to see them wading on the shoreline. Bring your cameras preferably with telephoto lenses in order to paparazzo them. There will be a guided birding walk on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 – 11:30 am. It is sponsored by the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps. This link is to their Facebook page.
The incredible photographs accompanying this post are by my über-talented friend Julia C. Banach. She is an award winning (and currently self-described amateur) photographer. I am in awe of her work here. Just so magnificent! Thank you, Julia, for capturing the majesty of these creatures.
Find more photography by Julia on Facebook. This is the link to her “Like” page. Become a fan. She has recently updated her page to include incredible animal shots from trips to the local zoo, as well as gorgeous sunsets and full-moon illustrated landscapes. Really beautiful work! I have no doubt that Julia’s photographs will appear in nearby art galleries and museums very soon. <3