Dear readers, new and old,
What a month it has been, hasn't it? This email is coming to you slightly late for many reasons but mostly because I could not keep my mind sufficiently focussed on writing this story for you. There are a few too many things happening at the same time right now.
But in times of turmoil, there's always the option to express yourself and make things. In fact, if you are somebody who likes to create, this is especially a good time to focus on your craft. It's better to pour it all out there and release that energy than to let it slowly consume you. Because it will consume you. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this month's story.
Oh and in case you forgot, my name is Mitch and through this monthly newsletter I take you with me as I go out exploring while making photos, videos, and other stuff.
Listen to this story
Storms from all sides
It's 9 AM on a Saturday morning and I feel a little crusty from the beers from last night. I roll over and look at my phone. I know I probably shouldn't, as it immediately ruins my unspoiled mind with the endless stream of attention-seeking news. The fresh mental clarity of the morning, gone in a finger flick and a scroll. In a somewhat unsuccessful effort to look past the messages of doom coming from Eastern Europe, I try to focus on lighthearted news for the first time since Wednesday. A tweet from one of my favorite artists catches my eye.
I get out of bed and walk over to my tv to watch The Weeknd’s Dawn FM Experience on Amazon Prime. A 34-minute show that makes me nostalgic and weirdly emotional. I almost feel proud of him, a man I never met and only have a one-sided connection to. So much has happened in the ten years since House of Balloons and, despite our lives having no obvious parallels, seeing the soundtrack to mine come to fruition like this feels meaningful. At the very least, it unlocks a mental journey through the past ten years and makes me realize I too have not stood still.
After the show ends, I take a moment to stare out of my window and watch the storm that's been howling around our home rolling out. The wind leaves a trail of destruction that even the water-bending Dutch could not avert. The rain has found a way through the cracks of our roof but, unlike some, at least we still have a roof. While this storm is making its exit, another storm is still roaring in the east. A fierce wind never was our biggest issue as reports of war take over the news on all available channels. The continued turmoil in the world makes me feel tired and lethargic. As if nothing matters anymore. But I suppose if nothing matters now then it never did to begin with.
Enough of the moping around inside. The sun is anxiously peeking through the clouds and it's time for my weekly camera therapy. A short train ride later, I emerge in our capital city. There's an X-Pro3 in my hand with my newly acquired XF50mm f2 attached to it and an action camera strapped to my chest. I'm walking from the central station to an area called Sloterdijk, to hop back on the train from there. I take small detours and walk streets I never walked before. Just to see what I come across along the way.
The train arrives at the station at the same time as I do, so I have to increase my pace to be able to hop in while the conductor's whistle blows. A few moments later I find myself on the beach being blasted by the remaining gushes of wind. The beach is usually a 30-meter wide strip, gracefully stretching along the coastline. Today it's reduced to a narrow path with a two-meter high wall of sand, dropping straight down into the oncoming ocean. Some people walking the narrow path below, have to run every now and then for the above-average waves flushing everything away. Other people, myself included, decide to walk on top of the mountain. We are plowing through the loose sand that sometimes spills over the edges of our shoes but at least we're safe from the water.
I walk all the way from Zandvoort, where I started, to Bloemendaal. In that 5KM stretch, I pass by multiple beach clubs that appear to have been completely abandoned — the pools are filled with sand, the windows are broken and the bar is rapidly rusting away in the salty ocean air. You can tell it's been a rough few years and this storm from hell made the sight even more pronounced.
On my way back through the dunes, I get a small glimpse of one of the abandoned beach clubs before the path leads me away from the ocean for the final time. I see they are repairing the broken windows, so I guess they haven't completely given up on the building yet. I'm surprised but maybe there's a lesson here. Something, something, resilience.
Before I hop on the train back, I purchase a beer and a cheese sandwich from the shop at the railway station. Today's walking has worn me out physically but the mental clarity I lost while doom-scrolling this morning has returned.
I look out the window as the train accelerates and try to appreciate the natural beauty of the last light on the landscape. A land I love very deeply and am glad I can call home. My wanderlust might take over every now and then but I'm always happy I can return here. I can not imagine this all being gone someday. But even if it does come to that, in whatever way that will be, at least I still have my pictures.