This collection was captured in a little over a month and shows the lilies from their emergence in the last week of June to the first week of September when the flowers had withdrawn from view and the leaves turned to autumnal colours. It marked a very sad time in my life when I lost Henry, my sixteen-year-old golden retriever. The loch became my safe place, where I could remember him and mourn my loss. I believe that these images do share some of my inner feelings, particularly where the reeds are prolific and the lilies are swamped and trapped, struggling to flower in amongst their stronger hosts. I remember the challenges I had, trying to get a line of sight between the reeds for the camera to capture these truly ephemeral plants.
I also recall that there were times when the waters of the loch were unusually still and the entangled web of reeds and lilies below the water was visible and a glimpse of Being was revealed.
There were times when Monet’s paintings of the water lilies of Giverny appeared in my viewfinder as I was taking photographs, in particular the mauve tones of late summer.
On other days the skies were grey and the clouds dense, giving way to intense reflections and heavy rain.
I spent hours and days waiting for the moment when the buds might break open into the white and yellow flowers that we are familiar with. And while I was lucky on this occasion, with the combination of a warm and, at times bright day, it was my only glimpse of the “unnameable glimmer” (Derrida 1967) – the Being of the water lily.
But, almost as quickly as they emerged, the flowers were gone and the density of the reeds overwhelmed the delicate plants. Like Henry the life of the lilies was snuffed out and thus the lilies became a permanent reminder of him in a transient world.
Summer turned into autumn on the loch and the plate-shaped leaves began to change colour in mid July.
And as I walked away from the loch on that early September day, Henry’s star shone bright, shimmering on the surface of the water, in the late autumn sun. . .
Derrida, J. (1967). Of Grammatology. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press.