Yesterday I left my camera at home

by juliakeil

The following is an extract from my journal which I wrote not long ago after a late afternoon walk with my father through the Leipzig Riverside forest. On that day, as I got myself ready to go out I, almost mechanically, put on my coat, wrapped my scarf tightly around my neck, placed my hat on my head and reached for my camera to sling over my right shoulder. This time, however, I stopped myself, a fingertip away from my cameras body. At that moment, I consciously made a decision to leave my camera at home. To walk with nothing on my shoulders, nothing in my pockets, just the clothes on my back and boots strapped tightly to me feet.

‘Another day in March. Another day of “spring”. Another day of snow. Yesterday I went on a walk with my father into the Leipzig Riverside forest which was white-washed with just a few dark patches where twigs and branches stretched out their limbs. It was snowing quite heavily and the snowflakes were thick. Thick and fat, they clung for dear life to our clothes, which throughout our journey became soaked and heavy on our backs.

We decided to walk up an observation tower where we would be able to see over Leipzig and over the tops of the trees. The wind grew stronger with each step, whipping those fat flakes into every available crevice, every patch of visible flesh they could soak themselves into.  I hardly took notice of this though, as I was too distracted and overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and epic-movie-like scene which was taking place not just before my eyes, but all around me.

The top of the tower looked like the deck of a ship and I immediately felt the urge to spread my arms and shout, “ I’m flying Jack, I’m flying!”  I didn’t though and instead, with my cold, wet and heavy gloved hands down by my sides, stood and gaped at the wonder before me. Everything looked so different so high up. So still with the only movement coming from the rapidly roaming snow whizzing past our heads, letting the wind suck them down to the earth below.

 I honestly could not describe what I felt at that moment, nor could I do the experience any justice through words or photographs. I felt honoured to be there on that little shaky platform with my father, our eyes being the only ones at that very moment feasting on that sight and appreciating it for what it was. I am sure my father felt the same. He didn’t have to say much, I just knew.

I almost didn’t want to leave that tower. Wanted to hold that moving sight before me for as long as possible but I knew I couldn’t. Not really. My thoughts went to my camera, which I consciously decided to leave at home that day and was now resting silently on the wooden kitchen table. Although I thought a number of times why I didn’t take it, consumed by the thought of capturing something which I inevitably could never do justice, I was thankful I didn’t. Perhaps, in some way, it allowed me to see more…

We slowly made our way down the tower stairs and as we did, the wind subsided.  When we reached the bottom, our feet once again united with the crunchy forest ground, my father circled the tower once, his footprints trailing behind him. “ To leave our mark” he said. To show we had been there and experienced that moment together. Show to whom exactly, that didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that those prints would shortly be powdered with another layer of snow, that they would inescapably disappear. Us knowing though, was enough.’