March 2020: At six A.M., I strolled on a tropical beach. Temperatures had already gone up to scorching hot and my sight consisted of countless fanatically walking hermit crab silhouettes, against the rising sun. The monkeys, raccoons, coatis, and iguanas had already started their day and life was good. At least, we assumed it was. As we were assured this ‘just a flu’ was not something to be taken seriously at all. So, completely cut off from the world and a 100 % Wi-Fi-free, this paradise feeling was easy to maintain.
Once back in reality, this illusion was cruelly disrupted by an SMS bomb on our phones: “Go home NOW, while you still can. The world is on fire!”. The threat was so serious that we tried this, but even € 6000, – (!) tickets turned out to be sold out! A state of emergency was declared in Costa Rica, we were no longer allowed to leave the site, the airspace was closing worldwide, and even the ever so friendly Costa Ricans seemed scared of us.
As if two enormous doors were closing rapidly. The crack got smaller and smaller and we just managed to jump through and arrive safely in the Netherlands. Although ‘safe’ was a relative concept. It was only here, that this ‘new normal’ begun…..
Sweeter than sweet
2020 also forced us to stand still. Looking ahead offered little vision and the world behind us no longer existed. A great opportunity to consider the here and now: What are the things that you really miss? What is truly important? How do we deal with the world, with animals, with each other and is that really the right way or could it be better…? Everything we so mistakenly took for granted and considered ‘normal’ appeared to be so much more special and worthy than we had realized….
Looking past the limitations, I think I managed to make something relatively beautiful out of 2020. Thankful to be able to see people, albeit in a somewhat different form. Thankful to be able to share so many beautiful (photography) experiences with my boyfriend and glad that I still have loads of work. Making beautiful things together with other people, which (hopefully) make other people happy. I realize my small contribution will not change the world, but what if everyone would just try to make this world a little better…? What if everyone would be just a little friendlier to someone else? Giving the world just a little more color can be so simple…
My colors in 2020
January: The Starling Show
2020 opened with the most beautiful natural “fireworks” imaginable; a fully arranged air show, by tens of thousands of starlings. Without agendas and without Zoom Meetings, these birds succeed in creating a choreography that we people would not be able to match with months of training. Starlings Just do iT, fascinating!
February: Starlings, the sequel
Since I cannot get enough of such an amazing phenomenon and the starlings apparently did not either, we just continued in February. Snow, ice, and winter seem to be a blast from the past, so instead of watching snowflakes swirling in the sky, I looked at starlings swarming in the mist. Different, but certainly not less. And in terms of sound, the starling swarm beats the snow….
March: Costa Rica revisited
In 2019, I was asked by Huawei to go to Costa Rica to photograph animals with the Huawei P30 pro. A more than successful mission, I accomplished together with my boyfriend. As we were both very charmed by this country, we went back to explore this piece of paradise in peace and without assignment. On March 21, we set foot on Dutch soil again, after a wonderful journey, just in time to join our so called ‘intelligent lockdown’.
April: Corona Fritillaries
I found a nice little corona project close to home: Snake’s head Fritillarias. It is striking how my mood seeped into my photography: my usually overly sweet photos in happy-happy-joy-joy colors gave way to very moody, dark images.
May: Vitamin C(ubs)
After spending quite some time indoors, I decided to sniff some vitamin D, with fox cubs as a pleasant side effect. Sleeping cubs, playing cubs, nursing cubs, cute cubs…. 2020 may have been a dredging year on many fronts, but cub-wise it was quite ok (…)
June: Cute Overload
To alternate the fluffy coats with more fluffiness, without sacrificing cuteness, I photographed some little baby ducks as well. I will remain a sucker for the sweet and innocent and even when the whole world collapses, I will continue to make my own happy, glaze-breaking sweet world, full of glimmers, sparkles, and party lights! Which virus, where?!
July; Need for Sweet
More fox cubs. The blacker the news reports, the higher those graph peaks, the more threatening the oncoming wave, the greater the need for some sweet!
Augustus: Foxy Love – the right example
Baby foxes grow up and the disappearance of puppy fat, is amply arrived by high doses of fox love. This year they seemed to set the right example. Fox snuggles all over the place; brothers with each other and brothers with their sister, mother with children, as if to say, ‘Remember? That is how you do it! ‘
September: Chill like a Fox
This year gave me – and probably many others – quite a bit of extra stress. Suddenly we had (re)consider about everything. Celebrating a birthday, paying someone a visit, buying cloths, celebrating Easter, Christmas, a Birthday, New Year’s Eve …. many things are not possible or at least not as spontaneously as we used to. Sometimes it was challenging to put everything into perspective, but there was a remedy: copy the fox method and…. chill like a fox!
October: Fallow deer rut
Looking back, this period still feels a bit like calm before the storm. Although we could have seen the second wave coming, we still secretly tried to deny it. The regained freedom of movement in the summer had been a delicious gift, one that tasted like more and the resistance to going back into that box was quite strong. It was also the period before Being Outside became the Answer to Everything. Ikea closed? Into nature! Cinema closed? Go outside! Schools locked? Hike! Suddenly we walked with millions of us in nature. Parking lots were already full at 9 a.m. and the concept of traffic jam walking was invented. My favorite nature reserve was busier than a theme park on its heyday! And of course: I grant everyone that nature, but I cannot wait for the construction markets and the KFC to reopen!
November: More murmurations
Did I already mention that I never get tired of nature and its small and great wonders?
December: Done with 2020
Winter is not coming, which gave me some time to do indoors- work. Being a self-employed photographer, editor, and author I’m very thankful I’ve still got work to do.
For now, I wish you succeed in making the best version of 2021. For yourself and for everything else! And #stayhealthy
A beautifully written and illustrated blog that reflects my feelings and experiences too. I began 2020 on photography and writing assignments in Bandhavgarh, India, and returned home one week before lockdowns turned our lives upside down. I still struggle to make sense of the seeming disproportionate response of full lockdowns, yet it made for a Spring, Summer, Autumn and now Winter spent with nature close to home in the UK. Here’s hoping that needed freedoms are returned by Spring 2021. Happy New Year
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and…… wishing you all the best!