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This has been a hard year. One might say, this has been one of the most difficult years we have ever had to face. 

Collectively, we have experienced one of the most challenging times in modern history.  

And yet, here we are. 

For some of us, this year has not come without loss. There are many people who are grieving right now. 

Still, joy and grief can live simultaneously. 

This year has been hard but if you look closely you can always find moments of happiness, even if it’s just in the little things. 

Photographing strangers and capturing their small moments of bliss has reminded me that we are all connected even when we feel hopelessly disconnected from the world around us.

We have more in common than we might think. 

I have always been a natural observer, curiously watching the lives of others unfold through a series of clicks. 

What I’ve noticed while following my lens finder: 

  • Children have the most genuine sense of curiosity while exploring the world around them. 
  • More often than not, people come together in times of need, even complete strangers.
  • We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. No matter how many times we fall, we always get right back up. 
  • And most importantly, there is always time for laughter. 

Thank you to the many people who let me photograph them and capture these special moments. We are lucky to live in communities where people aren’t afraid to say hello to a complete stranger carrying a camera around their neck.

The holidays may feel different this year, but we have a lot of outdoor spaces where we can still safely connect and be with one another. Cottonwood Lake is the perfect place to meet with family and friends. The lake is large enough that there is room for everyone to have space to play, and these two decided to spend Christmas Eve on the lake with their small bubble.

Rossland often feels like another world, especially after the first snow. Only in a snow town like this will you see folks casually skiing down steep city streets, hitting jumps cleverly crafted from the snowpack cleared from sidewalks and roads. This woman was on her way to catch the shuttle bus up to Red Mountain for the perfect powder day. This same afternoon, just ten minutes down the hill in Trail, the grass was still green and people were riding their bikes through Gyro Park.

This curious duo waits in anticipation as the snow-plow circles back around. The driver has an audience of children excitedly screaming for him to honk his horn and with each loud squeal the children are both delighted and startled by the alarming sound—sometimes it really is the simple pleasures in life that are most exhilarating.

Winter doesn’t stop these two from jumping on their bikes and riding through town in search of adventure. Although winter mountain biking might come with its own set of unique challenges such as frozen fingers or toes that can’t feel the pedals, lots of folks in the Kootenays don’t let that stop them from hitting the trails! These two even opted to ride through the snow, with one of them popping a cheeky little wheelie along the way.

It’s never too late to learn something new. This woman cautiously skates around the rink. She moves slowly but there is a real sense of purpose and determination. With her arms outstretched, she maintains her balance, never faltering and with every push, always smiling, taking pride in the seemingly small accomplishment that feels more like a big win.

A young family gets bundled for a winter walk, as their little one gets to experience the magic of snow for the first time; their furry friend leads the way. There is something extra special about seeing the world through a child’s eyes as if everything becomes new to you once again.

The best part of the riverside walk in Millenium Park for this Castlegar resident isn’t the people she meets along the trail, it’s not breathing in the crisp mountain air, or even feeling the sun shining down on her and her husband. No, for this woman, it’s the excitement of checking out what new titles have found their way to the Free Little Library, a place where locals can exchange their favourite books with one another. 

“This is her favourite part of the walk,” her husband says, as he patiently waits for her to choose a new book.

After much anticipation, the two outdoor rinks in Castlegar are finally ready to skate (with new rules and regulations, of course). This young woman skates circles around her boyfriend, teaching him some fancy tricks; he stumbles (only slightly) and may not be able to power-skate across the ice, yet he keeps going, as she shouts words of encouragement.

Another couple decides to spend their time keeping warm around a winter fire with a hot beverage as they watch children just learning how to skate, and dogs trying to find their balance on the ice. The crackle of the campfire elicits faint memories of warm summer nights that don’t seem that long ago but frozen toes wiggling for warmth are a reminder that we are fast approaching the end of 2020, that the New Year is just around the corner (and the days are only getting longer).

This has been such a challenging year, we have all had to make a lot of changes to adapt to new ways of living and masks are just one of our newest accessories. It’s not always easy to find the right mask that fits comfortably and looks good with every outfit, let alone a mask that also matches your dog’s sweater, but as difficult as it may seem at times, wearing a mask is one way we can show the people we love and care about that their health and safety is important to us. Caring never goes out of style.

Every once in a while you just have that perfect day. This is one of those moments. Your head in the clouds as snow falls like a dream from the cedars above. For a brief moment it feels as though nature is whispering to you in some beautiful language that will only ever be understood in that exact moment… and then it’s gone. Genius Loci, the protective or pervading spirit of place, a beautiful term I first heard from the late Myler Wilkinson that always comes back to me when I see moments like this.

Part of being a community means taking care of one another. This may seem like a simple act of shoveling snow off of ice, yet in many ways it represents something much larger. Living within a community means we take the time to do the “small things” so that we can all enjoy the important things in life. Shoveling the snow off the ice today means that someone else will still be able to enjoy skating tomorrow. When we come together to take care of our communities, we all reap the benefits.