I ended 2011 in fine fashion, but have no photos to show for it. That's by choice.
Having received a thrilling invitation to join a group of friends on a New Year's Eve kayak excursion down a local, well-protected and hence still prehistorically natural and beautiful river, I decided not to sully the experience by documenting it with technology. And so the only pictures I have are in my head and in my heart.
What pictures they are, though.
Moonlight on the river, guiding me along a smooth silvery path between flotillas of water lilies.
The muted flash of paddles in front of me, a barely discernible beacon drawing me forward into the next moment.
Turning off my headlamp and realizing how much I could see by the light of Nature.
Dipping my hand to discover water warmer than the air.
The surprising scent of woodsmoke from campers who aren't supposed to be there -- not that you can blame them for wanting to be on the river all night.
Orion throwing one foot over the treetops, on his way to the peak of the roof of the world.
Jupiter blazing close to the still-waxing moon.
A huge owl flying silently across the river, a soft dark shape against a sky full of stars.
The calls and responses of at least three more owls in three directions, floating like a banner overhead.
The quiet talk and laughter of friends pausing midway in the journey, rocking gently in the current side by side, sharing chocolates and the last of the Christmas cookies.
I took these pictures with all of my senses, and they are part of me now.
How else could you photograph falling in love with a river?