“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
― A.A Milne
This time a year a go I was hugely, breathlessly, stretched-to-popping pregnant. But happily back in England, frantically taking every possible opportunity to get out with my camera.
Who knows what people must have thought when they saw me waddling around to find the ideal spot and then lying down (with a great deal of effort!) on the grass in the park to take photos of the buttercups and daisies. I certainly got some funny looks!
I didn’t care though; I was like a kid in a sweet shop. And I didn’t want to waste a single chance to enjoy the great outdoors as I was only intending to be back in the UK for long enough to give birth and recover for a couple of weeks (not quite what happened in the end, but that’s another story!).
Perhaps that seems particularly odd behaviour for someone living in the ‘wilds of Borneo’? Well, the nature here is incredible, and I am in wildlife enthusiast heaven. But photography can be challenging at times.
It is seriously hot and sticky for one thing. All the time. Longer than 30 minutes and you are usually cooked and uncomfortable and not really having much fun at all.
Also, most things – flora and fauna – are unfamiliar to a girl more used to the rolling English countryside than wild jungle landscapes. I am learning my way round slowly, but I’m still cautious. Can I touch this without getting a physical reaction to sap or pollen? Will this harmless looking bug suddenly fly/bite/squirt me in the eye with something unpleasant? Will that patch of dense jungle ferns be providing shelter to a new litter of feral kittens (usually in our neighbourhood) or a deadly and pretty hostile snake (also often in our neighbourhood)?
All that aside, the flowers here are just so beautiful. Some of them are really enormous and flashy. The stereo-typical tropical hot-house flowers. But then there are some really dainty, tiny little things, that you’ll only spot if you are walking and stop to peer closely at the mass of green before you.
Those are the kind that really jumped out at me this week. Some people might think of them as weeds, but I just loved their colours and textures. How have I not noticed the pink fizzballs before? They are only the size of a baby’s fingernail, but so striking. Although don’t ask me what they are. I haven’t got a clue!
When we first got to Brunei I’d tried – in my newly arrived, ‘how much pain can an insect bite really be?’ enthusiasm – to carry on as usual, getting out and taking photos. The first time I fully lay down on the grass for an eye level flower shot was the last! Fire ants and mosquitoes make a very unpleasant combination! And you’d be surprised how many bites you can get in under five minutes!
My finely honed in-Brunei photography approach has evolved to include a kind of crouching, forward leaning, minimal-skin-in-contact-with-the-ground posture. Effective for getting those flower photos, if rather inelegant and ungainly! It wasn’t physically possible when I had a huge pregnancy belly. I did try! Think spectacularly inelegant and ungainly…before losing balance and toppling sideways.
I have been trying to make up for lost time on the flower photography recently. And I drench myself liberally in insect repellent these days! I’m not sure how effective that last step is, but if it stops even one mosquito then it is worth it! There’s no way I’m giving up on flowers while I’m out here. Even if they are just pretty weeds!