Earlier in the year, my brother Jason Koons tagged me in a challenge to do 7 days of nature photography on Facebook. I always meant to share here, but never got around to it. So, several months late, here we go!
It was raining today, which put me in mind of this picture from Berry College in 2009. I love the way leaves look in the rain–each drop like a small galaxy.
When we were at the redwood forest in CA, my niece Megan pointed out these tiny, tiny mushrooms underneath the giants. Children see the most magical things that the rest of us all too tall to notice. I love these little faerie mushrooms, and I love Megan (who turned 10 in 2016!).
Confession: I cried when we flew into Afghanistan.
In the hours leading up to our departure, I was wired with fear. When we entered the airport, and I found myself a minority Westerner and one of the only women in sight, I almost thought about bowing out and just hanging in Dubai for the next two weeks.
But when we began to fly over the mountains, my breath was taken away. They were enormous, bigger than almost anything I’ve seen before. And between the mountains were these stark green valleys.
And I thought, naive and small-minded person I am, “There is green even here.” And, “God is here. I cannot go where He has not already gone.”
I pulled my chadar over my face and cried into the veil, overwhelmed by joy and peace and grace. My fear left (for a while, anyway).
When we departed (and I took this picture), I looked out at the mountains. I felt a truth rising in my bones and soul that I’d once felt when looking at the London skyline.
And I promised the dry dusty ground, “I’ll come back.”
Giverny Vernon, France: Monet’s garden.
Perhaps ironically, one of the things I love about nature is the way it connects us with people. The way it connects to the past, and to art.
I’ve loved Monet since I was a child, largely because my mom loves Monet. She loves him because her mom loved him. Her mom loved gardening, too, and surrounded herself with beautiful blooms–as does my dad’s mom.
When I look at Monet’s paintings, or the flowers I pass by, I think of these women and their incredible strength. When I touch the softly wrinkled petals of a flower, I think of my grandmothers’ hands. And when I stood in the garden, I was reminded of my mother’s quiet resilience. These women tend those around them, enriching our lives and futures with their work and care. So many women I know have gardener hearts.
Nature captures these memories, these people, and preserves them, even when they and the flowers are gone.
Cornwall’s coastal path. I love the history of these beaches — the history of smugglers and pirates, cut-throats and shipwrecks. I love that on a stormy day, these waters turn on you, and demand your fear and respect. But on the sunny days, they glimmer emerald and lapis. It’s easy to see why this coast is filled with stories of magic and mermaids.
Culloden Battlefield, Scotland.
The deciding battle that ended the Jacobite Uprising took place here. Walking the field is very similar to walking Gettysburg — it’s a quiet, beautiful place, but the blood in the ground seems to seep into the silence. When you wander through the paths, you feel the weight of it.
The land holds the sorrow. I wonder sometimes if it will hold beyond our museums, our markers, or our memory. I hope not.
The Lake District.
I’ve just survived a cousin’s wedding and need to get back to scrubbing my tub in a moment, so nothing particularly deep to say about this one. I’d like to sit on this shore again.