Thinking of 2022, I see ferocious storms with menacing black clouds. Interspersed with a warm, sunny summer and an almost endless series of beautiful sunsets.
2022 … the year in which one ‘certainty’ after another collapsed. Just when that Covid-train suddenly came to a rather unexpected squeaky halt and when we were about to set those Covid tests on fire, a series of new setbacks thundered over us. Before we could celebrate our newfound freedom, we were held hostage again. A dirty war, an energy crisis, a climate crisis, a housing crisis, a stagflation and a whole new list of me-too scandals. But… flexible as we are, we exchanged our face masks for jars and rugs and went looking for the bright spots.
Clean up Corrie
In January, storm Corrie raged into our country and it must be my vivid imagination, but I have this image of Corrie with her headscarf, sweeping this Covid-thing out of the country. I was walking on the beach. My ears and eyes were sandblasted, a bit like a tartar treatment at the dental hygienist. It really feels very unpleasant, but when it’s done and everything is nice and clean….best feeling ever!
Three Angry Brothers
In February, the triplets storm Dudley, Eunice and Franklin completed the job. While Corrie still allowed a walk on the beach, Dudley just wrapped the entire coastline in a filthy layer of dirty greasy foam. And Franklin even managed to swallow our dunes and made the entire beach vanish. But… at the end of the day, when the brothers had calmed down, there was… the light.
‘How do you find subjects? We hardly have any nature over here, do we?’
Subjects are everywhere. And of course you don’t shoot winners all the time.
And that’s exactly the beauty. Nature is like a grab bag. Sometimes you go wrong and sometimes you are suddenly surprised with something very special.
Like pheasants. They are everywhere to be found here, mostly seen when you tend to step on them and they try to give you a heart attack with their icy scream and savage flapping. But they can do more. Starting in March, they do their cool feather shake to impress pheasant females. And some people, like me…. Look at those feathers, look at that tail..!
Sometimes you would think that nature has a sense of humor. While the winter passed without snow, on April the 1st the world (or at least mine) turned completely white. And so it happened that a nursing fox had to shake the snowflakes out of her fur…
Fox kits, cubs and pups
Fox kits were generously sprinkled this year. Every dune seemed to hide a cub surprise. And just when I thought I had it all figured out, the fox moms managed to add new dimension to the Great Fox Game by shuffling their cubs. Mother and daughter litters were combined and divided again. Which made me wonder if mothers still knew who were theirs. And if they did know , were they honestly taking their own cubs with them? Or did they secretly take the healthiest, the biggest or the sweetest?
Typical useless human thoughts. The foxes don’t really care. Everything is taken care of by everyone. An example of community spirit that we could take as an example.
Anyway baby animals always makes me happy. These bundles of love, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, innocence, zest for life, hope and joy. This year, many dens in were filled with little hairy balls of cuteness and I was able to immerse myself, at least temporarily, in a world where only peace, love and joy reigned.
You won’t see it until you see it
You can write or sing about lights, but above all you simply have to see them. They are always there and they are everywhere. And in case you don’t see, I will see them for you.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that I spend a significant part of 2022 in nature. As nature brings peace and inspiration. She helps you recharge. She makes your thoughts float by like clouds, so you can go home with a tidy head. She makes you forget about cold, hunger, tiredness and all kinds of inconveniences. But nature is also a mirror. She brings you insights. Nature is magical, wise, complex and organized in all its chaos. Nature always seeks and finds balance. And nature amazes us endlessly.
Have you ever really looked at a spider web? Such a ‘simple’ animal that is capable of producing a material that is light as a feather, but stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar. All with their own body! And if a web breaks, the spider eats the precious material again to reuse. Nature does not waste; a valuable lesson…
And look at that shape: both beautiful and efficient. Extremely complex and yet so simple. That tiny spider understands something that many of us still won’t get: With money, status and power you might be able to create an ingenious web. But in the end it’s only about one thing: connection, with others, with nature… and with yourself.
Even all those lights couldn’t draw me away from the most fantastic wild animals I ever met: foxes. And this year I witnessed them playing, hunting, eating, fighting, cuddling, mouse pouncing and a few weeks ago I even saw one running across the ice! But I still prefer to see the Zen Foxes. Enjoying the here and now. No regrets about yesterday or worries about tomorrow. Another thing that nature seems to understand better than we do.
All too often I hear “Hey foxy lady, you’re not much of a birder, are you…?!”
Well…in fact, I like everything that breathes (except coots, that is). And no, I’m not dancing around my digiscope when I stumble upon some rare a Cetti’s Warbler. But anything fluffy can turn me into a true twitcher instantly!
This is my Church
Someone recently asked me what inspires me. I‘m not sure. What I do know is that the moment everything around me disappears and only me and my subject remain, it’s all right. I walk around, I crawl, I bend, I click, but most of all I am seduced by light, by scent by color. And sometimes there is a vague idea. No idea what it is and it doesn’t matter. The light shows the way and I follow willingly.
Only much later, back on my muddy feet again, my head goes back to work: ‘ What does this remind me of? Where do I know that light of…those colors….The way the light shines through those black frames, like … in a church… ‘And suddenly I know: Stained glass windows…! And somewhere in the back of my mind sounds louder and louder:
This is my church
This is where I heal my hurts
It’s in the world I’ve become
Contained in the hum
Between voice and drum
(R.I.P. Maxi Jazz – singer Faithless)
While people complained about the lousy winters of today, I made a nice mix of fog, frost and fox and enjoyed a good cup of winter with greedy sips. After a few days the cup was empty, my memory card full, my feet cold, my heart warm…
Like Martin Luther King said: Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars
I wish you lots of lights in 2023… without the bangs, as only in silence can you really hear.