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Appreciating the Beauty of Nature - Nature Photography Blog

A New Beginning – Reflections on a Life-cycle

Wildflower photography with marysejansenart

How do you envision your new year?

New Beginning by Maryse Jansen
New Beginning

The Life-cycle of a flower

The simple idea of the life cycle of a flower can inspire many thoughts and ideas

I’m looking at this beautiful plant – the Native Willow – and decide to photograph the different stages of the flowers: bud, just opening, fully in bloom, wilting, gone with only the sepals left. In one photo I show the first and the last stage in one composition. One flower dies … the petals have wilted and dropped and we can only see the sepals. And a new one is born … a new beginning!

You can give it many interpretations. Right now it makes me think about the fact that we are starting a new calendar year and this is often a time for people to reflect and make a fresh start. What does that mean for you in 2022?

A Mindset Shift

I’m thinking back to a few months ago when I wrote a post about Nature Positivity. I’d like to bring the concept in alignment with the idea of a new beginning. In the article I talked about the overwhelming way that reporting about climate change and the environment is focused on the negative: we constantly hear about the destruction of our earth, the extinction of our species… And about how that makes us feel hopeless.

I also talked about shifting our mindset to a positive approach: restoration, protection, what can we still do to make the world a better place? And about how this simple shift can give us hope and inspiration!

Simple? It’s not so easy as it sounds, right? Living in the modern world comes with all kinds of daily worries. It’s sometimes hard to see how things could change …

Do you worry about how you are going to get through your to-do list today? About that colleague that said something that ticked you off? About that family member that didn’t do their chores? You also may have bigger things on your mind like pandemics and climate change? It can be hard to put all that aside, right?

Connecting with Nature

So how do we shift our mindset to this more positive place? It starts with going outside and physically connecting to nature. Find a natural place in a nearby forest, a local park, a beach, or even just your backyard! Go there, take a deep breath and tune in to all your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? Explore the things that attract your attention. Maybe it’s the clouds drifting by in the sky, a bird flying overhead or a spider creating its web…

Native Willow

In my case, this time it’s a plant. It stands out to me because I haven’t seen it before. It grows on the edge of a lake, amidst reeds, tall grasses, a few bushes and trees and lots of wildflowers – some of which might be weeds. It’s about a metre high, not as high as the surrounding grasses. There is a bit of a breeze and the vegetation sways slowly in the wind. A couple of clouds take turns to cover the sun, so the light keeps changing.

The plant has bright yellow flowers, which have 4 petals. They don’t smell. The stem, leaves, flower bud and sepals have an unusual dark, red colour paired with green. The stem and leaves are more red, while the leaves are more green. It’s these red and yellow colourings that initially attracted my attention. A honey bee visits the flowers that are fully open diligently one by one, it’s hind side covered in pollen.

Native Willow Flower by Maryse Jansen
Native Willow Flower

Native Willow is known to grow in wet places. It is very similar to Long-leaved willow primrose (Ludwigia longifolia), Peruvian water primrose (Ludwigia peruviana) and also water primrose (Ludwigia peploides subsp. montevidensis) but when you look closely they can be distinguished by features such as hairyness and the shape of their leaves.

A New Beginning

While I’m observing and photographing this plant, there is no room in my mind for the daily worries. I’m exploring the natural world with a sense of wonder and that makes me feel good. It gives me inspiration as I look at the various stages of bloom and think about the cycles in life. Worries are just thoughts, and we can let them pass and make room for new thoughts, new beginnings. One flower wilts, a new one opens.

In a new beginning we don’t focus on the past, we look to the future! What would we like to see in this new year? And what can we do to achieve it? No matter how big or small your idea is, every little step is a positive contribution!

So, back to my original question: What does a fresh start mean for you in 2022?

Do you have personal new beginnings, in areas such as love, work, housing, family, hobbies?? Or do you think with a broader perspective: what is important for the world, society, environment at this time?? “New Beginning” can just be the image that reminds you of whatever it is for you! It can also remind you to just stop and take a breath and let go of your daily worries.

Reaching for the Light by Maryse Jansen
Reaching for the Light

If you are interested in purchasing ‘New Beginning’ or would like to see what it looks like on the various products, please head to my shop. Or if you prefer ‘Reaching for the Light’, click shop here!

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