Well what a year we’ve had so far.
2020 began with me putting plans into place to ramp up my workload after my Maternity Leave ended, with lots of exciting things on the horizon. Head of Sleep Control was settling in nicely at nursery, and Little Whirlwind was happily involved in school and various after school clubs.
Everything was bubbling along nicely. Then The-Thing-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named happened. (No, really, LW has banned me from talking about “The Virus” because he’s so fed up with it…).
And just like that, alongside the rest of the world, our lives flipped upside down. My husband became a reluctant work-from-home-office-worker taking over my newly revamped office, and I became an even more reluctant stay-at-home-mum-and-1950s-housewife-and-home-educator. None of which call on any of my strengths.
LW was missing his friends, and really, really not enjoying the work being sent home from school (happily we eventually found a brilliant solution to that one – one that involved mud, inventions, contraptions, research, experiments, and fun. But back in March that was a long way off).
The only person who was happy was little Head of Sleep Control, because all his favourite people were all around him all the time.
As we tried to adjust to our New Abnormal, LW and I bonded over a newly discovered passion for investigating what all the little plants were that we passed every day on the way to walk his Nana’s dog. You know the ones…growing out of walls. One’s kind of dangly with almost heart-shaped leaves and tiny purple snap-dragon type flowers (ivy-leaved toadflax, who’s leaves are apparently edible); another one that looks like a delicate little fern (maiden haired spleenwort); the long, trailing plant with fluffy balls (old man’s beard); and the one that’s EVERYWHERE – redy-green frilly leaves, with red stems, which we now say “Hello Herb Robert” to whenever we see it. (The whole plant is edible, but tastes surprisingly like burned rubber).
This is how we passed day after day of Lockdown Walks – finding new plants, learning their names and if they’re edible or poisonous. It’s been absolutely fascinating, and has led us on an amazing foraging journey. Our kitchen is now full of tinctures, elixirs, drying herbs & dandelion roots, a fridge full of homemade windfall apple chutneys, fruit butters and haw ketchup and a freezer full of foraged sloes, haws, blackberries and rosehips ready for later use. On the side is a little dish of hazelnuts we found on our walks, whilst a jar of ground acorns is slowly leaching out its tannins ready to be made into flour.
The last six months have been HARD. There is no doubt. There is so much that we have to be thankful for, but it doesn’t make the dark times any less dark.
As the Equinox is a perfect time to pause, look back and reflect, I realise I have learned a lot about myself and my little family.
I’ve learned that children learn far, far better when they’re knee deep in mud, or elbow deep in bread dough, or getting creative and building things, with gluey, sticky hands and a sparkle in their eyes. I’ve learned that I need daily headspace away from everything. I’ve learned I love to read, and learn, and grow and improve.
I’ve learned I love photography and capturing the essence of the moment, right down to the core of my soul.
At its worst, I couldn’t pick up my Canon 5D III. I couldn’t even look at it. I felt sick. But I never stopped photographing. I used my iPhone to capture our family’s Lockdown Story. The highlights are on my new Instagram Account, The Interrupted Penguin. At times, it was the only thing stopping me losing my marbles completely.
And now we’re into September, LW is back at school, and I find myself with a little more time to sit and think. My mind keeps returning to the importance of photographs – especially to those who are alone, whether it’s because they live too far away from their loved ones, or are at high risk and have to isolate. It brings a little piece of Family Love into their homes, and helps them to realise they’re not so alone after all, and that one day (hopefully in the not too distant future) we can all be together again. (This truly comes from the heart. I haven’t seen Mum since early February. She’s missing seeing her grandsons growing up.)
And I’ve realised I have the skills and experience to help people in my own small way. I’m now able to offer (safe, socially distanced) family photoshoots again, and am working on several more unusual (and fun) packages – and ALL of them include prints or albums. If there’s one thing we’ve realised throughout all of this it’s the significance of touch: the importance of being able to hold and feel something.
I’m thrilled to be able to work again (even if I can only offer a limited number of slots). If you would like to book, or want to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.