The Year in Pictures — 2021 Edition

The general consensus is that all time, day, and season since the announcement of the pandemic and the beginning of “these unprecedented times” has flowed together, coagulating into a formless lump of frustrated expectation. The expectation is that life will at any point now return to normal, or at least how we thought of that word prior to March 2020, when it seems that the powers of the world at last conspired to draw their net around the mass of us privileged, who up until that point had managed to eke out our lives in this place without more than the ordinary lot of troubles, looking on more or less helplessly as the “others” of the world suffered for our comfort, and perhaps, in our place.

But normal is one of those words whose meaning seems to fall apart upon close examination. It’s certainly not a universal condition. It can be understood only in a vague sense when conveyed to others. It is transitory. And how much of what we tell ourselves anyway is clouded by our own needful illusions or willful blindness? Did we ever understand what normal was? To anyone who has been paying attention the current situation, though highly abnormal, surely can be explained, even expected. Is it normal to think that we can go about living as we do, from day to day, forever without encountering any challenges to that life? To our assumptions? To our convictions?

It is in these times that we find out who we are. How to live. What to value. We look at things afresh. The normal takes on new meaning. Amid all these constant changes we continue to look for the light, to change our perspective, and wait for the perfect moment to… act, to snap that photo.

Do you see what I did there? I brought it all back to photography. I’m a good writer.

Anyways, it’s that time again, so enjoy this collection of my favorite photos from the year just past. We took a really lovely and memorable trip to Sedona in the spring, and I believe I added several to my collection of personal best photos from our local area.

Enjoy.

The Year in Pictures — 2020 Edition

This year was different.

News of the virus in China had already begun to circulate late last year. The videos and stories coming out of Wuhan were quite terrifying. People being welded into their apartments to prevent them from leaving. Bodies being secretly cremated en masse by the authorities. Sick people being burned alive. You have to wonder now if any of that had any basis in reality. I have come to distrust the news, both mainstream and alternative.

By February Donald Trump was doing quite well in the polls. It appeared that he would go on in November to handily beat whomever the Democrat challenger ended up being. By March the disease had reached U.S. shores, and the lockdowns began. Racial strife was unleashed yet again after a series of police killings of black men, eclipsing for a time the nation’s obsession with matters of gender and sexual identity. People marched in the streets. The marches gave way to riots. Righteous anger stood shoulder-to-shoulder with hate, the flames ever fanned by media new and established.

Meanwhile the lockdowns took their toll on normal life. Vacations were canceled. People stayed home. Businesses closed. People lost their jobs. Thank God we survived all that, but my daily habit of working away from home was seriously curtailed. I rediscovered my neighborhood. Took up walking every day at lunchtime, through the heat and sun. I could sweat as much as I pleased. I discovered a new trail system they’d built not too far from us. Found out what the grasses looked like there in the evening light. Found beauty in the spring clovers. There’s a lot of that kind of stuff in this year’s set. I hope you don’t mind.

(Kassi and I did end up taking the kids on a short trip to Arkansas. That’s in there, too. I think we all appreciated the break, as little as it was. We learned that traveling with masks is not completely unbearable.)

The end came quietly. Not without a fight but without violence. Donald Trump is gone from the news after dominating the nation’s attention for four solid years. Covid is still around, worse by any measure than it’s ever been, but the raw fear is less, I think. You learn to deal with pretty much anything. We like everyone else are looking forward to a bit more “normalcy” next year, but I don’t think you ever go back fully to the way things were. You always take something from your experience and carry it with you into the next phase. I hope we can carry with us the coping skills we’ve learned and a renewed appreciation for the little world around us.