Dear John

I went to the Wildlife Photography Exhibition today at the Natural History Museum (2014/15 – Portfolio 24).  It was sort of in tribute to you, as it was our tradition that you would buy me the associated book every year for Christmas – there’s a whole row of them on the shelf in the front room, and I’ve added this year’s.  It was also partly just to do something normal and familiar, from my old life, to distract myself from the realities of this new life.

Of course it was so sad, because you will never see those pictures, nor any of the ones in future years.  And I will never go around the exhibition with you again – though I suppose I might still go with someone else; one of my sisters or a friend, someone else to share opinions and preferences with.

It also reminded me how much you liked photos to be backlit – how you would always prefer slides to prints, and of course after you’d introduced me to slides, I agreed and loved them also.

I’m going to have a real problem with my own mortality now.  Everything seems so random – inane and profound at the same time.  This may be my last Wildlife Photography Exhibition, for all I know.  How can people live with the knowledge that only death awaits?  Yet I know those of us in the land of the living just have to get on with it and can’t spend every moment terrified that it’s their last.

Objectively, I didn’t think much of the exhibition this year.  Too arty, all obscure ‘being clever’ ideas and patterns, and too few actual nice animal photos and portraits.  As has always been my own tradition, I look at all the photos then choose my top three, and go round to confirm those in my mind at the end.  This time I chose:

In third place, a pretty photo taken by a teenager of a bird with its wings spread, coming in to land in a snowy scene (“Snowbird”).

In second place, a gorilla standing by some fields, looking as if it’s holding its lip in contemplation, with the image being called, “Where’s my forest?”

But in first place a technically amazing (and very pretty) shot of a hummingbird with a very long beak, the tip of which has been caught just a tiny gap away from another humming bird (“Touché”).

Do you remember we saw hummingbirds in St Lucia? One coming and fluttering right near to us, by some flowers at the cable car place.  It was so wonderful and we were both amazed and delighted at the experience.  You so much loved nature and enjoyed seeing things like that, dearest John.

As ever, the available fridge magnets didn’t include any of the images I’d most liked, so I didn’t buy any.

There was quite a nice big cuddly leopard (or cheetah) in the shop – but I guess my days of buying cuddly toys are over.  Too sentimental, without you.

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