Despite the freezing weather, there’s a lot of natural beauty in winter, and for me as a photographer, it’s a joy to capture. I love going outside for a winter hike with my camera. It’s magical to see my home and my neighborhood covered in a white blanket. I see everything with fresh eyes, from another perspective, and appreciate how I connect with my surroundings in a new way.
This year, in Denmark, nature graced us with an unusual abundance of snow, catching my city Aarhus somewhat off guard. The unprepared roads caused disruptions, keeping many from work and children from school.
The snow always makes me nostalgic. It evokes memories of my grandparents. As the snowflakes fall on my cheeks they are transporting me back to cherished times of winters spent with my grandparents in the countryside.
It’s very happy memories of snowball fights and laughter echoing through the snowy landscape, and my grandparents enchanting Christmas parties in their cozy home. These gatherings, now living in my heart, instilled in me a deep love for the festive season.
My grandfather, a charismatic and confident man, led our family with calm and loving guidance. His creative mind and hands crafted his visions into reality, building his dream home with a beautiful garden – full of English roses he lovingly tended. Every morning, regardless of the weather, he plunged into the pool at 5 am, showcasing a level of grit and self-discipline that left a lasting impression on my childhood eyes.
Grandpa also loved taking photos. Of course he shot film, as they did back then. He made a darkroom in his home so he could print his photographs in the traditional way, and sometimes he would delicately paint colors onto the black and white photo prints with a tiny brush.
It was my grandmother who cultivated in me a deep appreciation for nature. Our days were spent wandering fields, hills, seasides, and woods. We collected treasures – flowers for pressing, seashells for keepsakes, pine cones for decorations, and berries for homemade delights. These moments, whether biking for hours to get ice cream, helping her in the garden, or dancing together in the living room, were pure magic, filled with love and joy.
Survivors of World War 2, my grandparents’ resilience and ability to find joy in every moment became a guiding light for me. My grandparents unconditional love for handcraft, art, nature and life has very much shaped the person I am today.
My grandparents met when they were only the ages of 14 and 15. Their inseparable love bond endured until the end. Yet, life dealt a cruel blow, taking my grandpa away too soon. It was a hard blow on my grandmother. She went into a 5 year depression and even though she got better, she never really became the same person again – the shadow of sorrow stayed with her.
Later in life, she was diagnosed with Dementia. In her nursing home we hang a photo of my grandpa on the wall. She was no longer able to understand or remember who he was, but every time she walked by the photo she pointed at my grandpa and asked “Who is that handsome man…?”
I still miss my grandparents very much. The truth is; when someone you love dies, you grieve the loss forever. Grief never ends and that’s okay.
Life goes by so fast. When you are young and healthy, you think time is forever, but the older you get, the more you understand that we’re just visiting earth for a while. TIME is our most valuable asset – every moment is precious. Life is beautiful, and there’s so much to be grateful for.
As I step into 2024, my promise to myself (and my grandparents) is to appreciate life to the fullest – the highs and lows, the down times and the good times. I will embrace the flowing rhythm of life and feel grateful for the gift of existence. In all four seasons, I will immerse myself in nature without complaint, appreciating even the storm and the rain. And I will not spent a moment second guessing my intuition or critiquing myself, but make it a daily goal to meet life with compassion and acceptance.
For this year, my guiding word is “appreciate.”
With heartfelt LOVE,