With Covid sticking, our social and cultural life have been greatly limited. Museum, festivals and other exhibits are now closed and with them their power to inspire and spread beauty. As a French person coming from Paris, culture and art are things I hold dear and consider as strong part of my education and identity. 

Now living in The Netherlands, I have been the happy witness of the amazing landscape changes that have been happening over the last few weeks: The sudden raise of water on the floodplains, reflecting the colours of the sky as an endless mirror, quickly followed by 20 centimetres of snow, freezing the river. Overall, I have been amazed at the immense and colourful skies that I didn’t have access to when living in the city, the foggy mornings and the slow changes of the landscape over the seasons. 

As museums are closed, my only escape became long walks in nature, hereby getting in touch with the natural cycles, seeing the beauty in the different weathers, the trees losing their leaves and creating new ones, the evolving colours etc.

Observing these simple yet sublime processes I made a realisation: The amount of grace I find in nature, is the amount I choose to see. Far from the standardised beauty standards of nature in Instagram, I started becoming sensitive to all the different emotions and states of mind nature brought me: the mysteriousness of foggy days, the nostalgia of rain, the peacefulness of the snow, the music of birds… As such I can become the artist of my own mind, deciding to look at my environment in all its elegancy and wonder. In other world treating the landscape as a moving painting. 

Getting lost in this meditative gaze, I get a glimpse of why so many painters have focussed on nature and landscapes: Turner, Van Gogh, Kim Chong Hak, Money, Hiroshi Yoshida etc.  

But more importantly, I realise that everyone can access this beauty if they want to. Along with the happiness it brings, it is also an empowering notion: every natural element can be enjoyable in some extend if we put ourselves in the right mindset. Therefore, ‘bad’ weather isn’t only something to endure but can become, with the restriction of Covid, an opportunity for us to see beyond and appreciate other types of beauty and art. 

Maybe the time is ripe for us to cultivate the culture of nature. 

Clara Jeanroy
NFH Youth ambassador