“I have breathed in deeply all the honeysuckle-perfumed air, the sunshine, the snowdrops of winter, the carouses of spring, the primroses, the crooning pigeons, the trills of the birds, the entire procession of soft winds and cool smells of frail colors and petal-textured skies, the knotted snake greys of old vine roots, the vertical shoots of young branches, the dank smell of old leaves, of wet earth, of torn roots, and fresh-cut grass, winter, summer, and fall, sunrises and sunsets, storms and lulls, wheat and chestnuts, wild strawberries and wild roses, violets and damp logs, burnt fields and new poppies.” – Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin
It happened for a brief moment, and now it’s gone. I’ve forever felt the passing of time more heavily when I travel rather than when I’m home. And for all the ways in which I find myself coming home, I always return feeling far from it. I remember the morning chill, the intermittent rain, and the fog that shrouded the fir. The dampness of soil, scent of mildew, and the moss that devoured. The afternoon I baked gooseberry and pear galettes. The fire that roared, and the flames that threatened to engulf. I remember the stillness I was left with. And all the ways in which I find myself longing to return to it.
The meaning of the word wander has been weighing heavily upon me. For the past few months, I’ve felt as if the wander we’ve come to know is no longer faithful to the true meaning of the word. The nature of social media has taught us to live against the moment. To focus on someone else’s curated moment. So much of the meaning of wander is lost. And so much of wander is getting lost. It’s about being present. Stillness. Scent. Finding flowers and flowering within yourself. The awe of the Earth. Unfolding to the wild and the wild of your own skin. It’s organic. I wanted to get back to that place. As much as I love the lens, I’ve always needed to live first within my memories. I barely photographed this trip. And by release, the photographs I ended up with are greater reflections of the organic sense of wander I’ve been desiring to capture.
So, this isn’t a travel guide about all the things I did in New Zealand. You won’t find a carefully put-together list of places to visit (Sorry!). Rather, it’s a living guide. About all the things I didn’t do. Finding yourself within a place. Becoming part of its terrain. Breathing the same language as the Earth. We all come from the same bud. Leaving part of your roots behind. Coming back with soil deep within your heels. And finding home within each new terrain. All the ways in which I found myself, by losing myself.
ALL THE THINGS I DIDN’T DO IN NEW ZEALAND
– I didn’t stick to a plan. I lost the itinerary. I stopped measuring the days. I threw out the lists. I surrendered to the whim of the wild. And in doing so, I learnt how to live.
– I didn’t follow maps. We drove endlessly, for hours. Through small towns. And found ourselves at the mouths of rivers. We drove against mountains. We drove to mountains. We stopped on the side of the road. We devoured yellow-hued cherries. We ate them in the full sun. We had no destination.
– I didn’t eat out. Because eating in, is the new eating out. Cooking for those you love. Cooking for love. The scent of fresh bread to warm the house. Morning coffee and pastries. We visited farmer’s markets. There’s something to be said for sourcing seasonal produce and interacting with the hand that reared it. We feasted well.
– I didn’t look to social media. I turned off my phone. I chose which moments to share. I created my own story.
– I didn’t become a tourist. We swam against the stream. We explored. We became our own tour guides. Went back into nature. We hiked nowhere. We hiked everywhere. We saw trees bend. We heard the wind howl. We watched the sun rise, then fall. And fell into it. We became traveller’s.
– I didn’t photograph everything. I shot film. I chased light. I sought moments. I sought people. I composed. I let myself live in the moment. I became the moment.