Hi again (for most of you, otherwise: welcome),
I'd like to start by thanking the people that have made the effort to send me a testimonial for my subscribe page. Thank you! Your writings are already live, with the promised backlinks. If you are now reading this and still want to contribute, please do. My inbox is still open, though that's always the case regarding replies to this newsletter, so that shouldn't be new information.
Anyway, my name is Mitch, and you a reading Dialogue. A monthly newsletter about photography, exploration, and other things. This time, I'd like to take you on a walk through the mist of an early morning, with a pleasant discovery following soon after.
I wake up in an all-encompassing darkness that makes me question if I have even opened my eyes. The lack of vision seems to have heightened my sense of hearing because I'm immediately made aware of a howling wind around the house. I lay still on my back for a minute, observing the sound, and notice the lack of drops hitting the roof. As soon as my feet hit the ground next to the bed, a cold sensation flows up from the wooden floor through my body — foreshadowing a day that will test my resilience.
A fresh pair of socks fixes my initial discomfort but doesn't help me shake the coldness that snuck up on me. I shiver over to the kitchen and hastily prepare a cup of coffee. Carefully sipping on the water and bean juice, I run the shower as hot as it goes and trade in one hot liquid for the other. The bathroom window slowly lets more light in as the sun rises, but the daylight reveals not much of the outdoor surroundings. After my shower, I run my hand across the window's surface to ensure I'm not confusing fog with condensation, but it seems the photographer in me is in for a treat.
I step outside and am immediately confronted with an intersection. The fog is so thick that, for a moment, I don't know which way to go. All options seem just as good from where I'm standing, and I'm sure many will lead to an 'ok enough experience,' some to potential disaster and one to extraordinary results. I didn't come outside to be average and always aim for extraordinary, but the potential of possible failure renders me unable to move. Each road around me is long and narrow, with no option to return from except for walking back. Where those roads lead to is obscured by heavy clouds, which doesn’t help as well. My next steps will determine the course of the day.
It's like I blacked out because a few hours later, I find myself back at the house with numb fingers and an SD card filled with images. I flick through my work using the LCD screen on my camera to assess my level of success, but a taunting feeling of uncertainty accompanies me. What if I had taken a different route, would I have come across something of more significance, and would my images be any better? Or would I run into a dead end, forced to return empty-handed? Is this the best I could do on this particular morning?
I turn off my camera and set it aside to bring my attention to the sandwich and second coffee of the day in front of me. I'll best postpone judgment day until I return to my computer. There's no turning back what has already transpired, and it serves me best if I live my life in the present anyway. The future will inevitably come, and my actions right now will determine what that future will look like. With that idea bookmarked in the back of my mind, I decide I'm satisfied with this morning's walk and focus my mind on the current task at hand. Food.
While doing the dishes, I hear a faint but recognizable meowing through the window next to me. I press one ear against the glass while covering up the other one. The sound intensifies. There's an undertone of distress in the feline's acoustics, and it worries me enough to go outside to check. Once knee-deep in the bushes surrounding the house, I am confident this cat is in trouble somehow, but I cannot get a vision of the animal. Judging by the sounds, it must be super close. Why can't I see it? Then, a white and brown shape moves in the bushes, and for a split second, I see the tiniest little kitten looking at me. Its eyes are watery, and its fur is drenched from the rain. This baby must've been out here for quite some time already.
I try luring the kitten with my voice, but it's too scared to come close. Each time I'm nearly there, it runs away and hides again. This goes on for about an hour until I realize I've probably stressed the tiny thing to the point that I won't be able to catch her anyway. I decide to instead place some milk and a makeshift shelter in the foliage. Her yelling has also stopped, so I best observe the situation from behind the kitchen window. The moment I step back inside though, her raspy voice can be heard louder than ever and I immediately head back outside. I've now gathered the attention of a couple of bystanders, who are also joining the search for the little one.
One soft-spoken woman in particular elicits some very pronounced sounds, and I soon spot the baby cat hiding halfway up a nearby tree. I am 1.85 meters tall but nowhere near the length required to reach high enough to grab her from the branches. Luckily, our aggregation enjoys the company of one typical Dutch giant willing to climb the slippery tree to save the soaked fluff ball. His climbing forces the cat a little further up the tree, and we fear it might hurt itself. We all hold our breath. Luckily, the cat did not crawl far enough to be outside the giant's reach. After a nearly two-hour rescue mission, the kitten is safely in my arms.
I take her to a nearby vet and learn she's likely a stray and that I can keep her if I want to. Despite being adamant about my two-cat limit, I seriously consider taking care of her, as I now feel responsible for her wellbeing. I never thought this would happen when I woke up this morning, but I have now made it my primary goal to ensure a safe and welcoming home for this baby. After a few calls, there is salvation. A befriended couple graciously welcome her into their home. I already felt like I was doing a good deed but now they are the true heroes of the day.
Do good to be better
Once back inside, with a pile of dishes still soaking in the sink, I suddenly feel alone. This morning's fog has made way for a new batch of clouds taking over the night sky. It starts to rain. A feeling of melancholy creeps up on me for reasons I can't explain. Perhaps I wonder what would've happened to the little cat if we didn't save her from the elements, or maybe I'm just caught by surprise by the sudden solitude after a busy day. It matters not. I roll up my sleeves and stick my hands back in the now-cold dishwater. These dishes don't wash themselves, and I'm glad I still have the pictures.
'I'm so happy I have photography,' I daydream while stirring the left-over soup. Without failure, it gives me something to hold onto during tumultuous times and a reason to get some distance when I require it. Expressing myself through photography is what kept me sane when I felt lost and continues to give me reasons to go out, explore, and, you know, see the world. It's how I want to spend my time and the more I do it, the better I feel about myself, about the world, about everything. Photography gives me purpose and, in the process, makes me a better person. Even at times when I don't necessarily have a camera on me. I hope at least that little kitten can agree.
Thanks for reading,