Updated: Feb 28
February. The shortest month in our calendar. Short days, long nights, and cold. A month to wish quickly past. In Ethiopia the shortest month is Pagume, just 5 days between August and September, marking the transition to the new year on September 11th. Experiencing a different calendar while living there challenged a lot of my certainties, making me realise that there are so many alternatives to aspects of taken-for-granted ways of being, the time of the year being a crucial one.
February is also the month that is 'in between'. #Sharon Blackie writes that February is in the season of Imbolc, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The days are getting longer, shoots are emerging from the soil in the garden. Sharon suggests it is a time to look back on the intentions planted in January, and see them emerge into the light. A time of awakenings, but also a time to nurture the growth, whether of seeds or of our own unfolding creative ideas. This has resonated with me as I continue to explore a range of photography and writing projects, with the help of Charlie Bellamy and Finding Your Voice, without yet knowing where this will take me.
Earlier this week I listened to Mel Collie's February mindfulness recording. She talks about February as being the month of connection between the dark of the winter and light of the spring and then she set a challenge to capture images on the theme of 'Connections'.
I pursued this idea on a walk at #Dawlish Warren yesterday. It did not feel like a typical February day. It was so gloriously sunny, with the tide ebbing and the beach stretched out ahead into the gentle waves.. But I definitely needed my winter layers in the chill wind. I very much felt that sense of February 'inbetweenness' that Sharon had written about.
I looked for images that would fit for the theme of 'connections':
I realised that I had focussed on human-manufactured things so I redirected my gaze to natural objects on the shore line:
and looked for connections within the images. Lines, patterns, ridges and textures feature in all of them. This led to looking for the intersections, the connections between the human and the natural:
This idea of focussing on a theme was certainly working. I was looking carefully for ways to interpret the concept of 'connection', noticing possibilities and then I was taking my time to capture the images in ways that emphasised the theme.
The groynes were a particular draw, given they connect the land to the sea, and are there to prevent erosion of the sand. They are also home to wide diversity of interconnected life-forms. Examples of how the natural world occupies the human-created artefacts of control.
I followed the groynes up to the dunes, and saw connections with the fencing erected to keep people on the pathways. I noted the connections in the structures, what was keeping them together, and the patterns they created in the shadows and the reflections.
The roots of the grasses planted in the dunes form connections to hold them together, but as I watched trickles of sand gently fell, revealing more tender roots to the elements. Again, the connection between the wild and the human.
I played around with a mirror for a while, thinking of connecting far and near, here and there.
And as I look back through the images, other connections emerge, such as those between the land and the sky, and ways to illustrate my connection to a place. Lots more inspiration!