Looking Back at 2020: Thank you for the Love

The year began full of promise and we had a new pair of swans moving into the river before any of us had heard of Covid-19. Two days into Spring we went into lockdown and travel restrictions weren’t lifted until early July.

Many of us had to find new ways of working and being and I want to thank all of you who shine a light and are an inspiration to others.

The emphasis this year was on collaboration and I contributed forty-eight poems to a variety of journals, videos, anthologies and works of art.

My heartfelt gratitude for all our readers who read, comment and share our posts on social media. Below are the ones you liked best, together with some other highlights from each season.

redshank snoozing and sunning on tidal sands

We went into full lockdown on 23 March 2020 and focused on the beauty found in our local environment. In late Spring we revisited, virtually, a lovely fishing village we had travelled to the previous December in The Pier at Findochty. This was the most popular post in Spring and would become the most popular post of the year.

The other most popular posts in Spring were Lily of the Valley, Pink Flow, Lunaria Annua, Little Blue Flower and Yellow Curve.

Spring also saw haiku poets from around the world contribute to EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 in honour of the Year of the Nurse. I contributed six haiku to this collaboration, two of which were later anthologised.

macro shot of a bumble bee feeding on lavender, seen from behind

Travel restrictions were lifted at the beginning of July and the Highlands were crowded with tourists from other parts of the country. We waited for everything to settle and did more virtual travelling, this time to Belfast, in order to pay homage to one of the teachers who inspired me in A Moment of Inspiration.

The other five most popular posts in the Summer were Angel’s Share, Morning Glory, Earthlight, Sweet Inspiration and Summer Meadow.

Summer also saw me guest-host the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge on the theme of Sanctuary.

two swans with three young cygnets on the river

In Autumn we entered a Tier system according to the number of Covid-19 infections and people from higher tiers were prevented from travelling to lower tiers. This resulted in a huge reduction of tourists and we could walk more safely throughout the Highlands, which was in Tier 1, without running into visitors from high Covid areas.

The most popular posts in Autumn were Truly Tranquil, Walking Wonderland, Starlings on the Roof, Highland Heather, Along the Loch Shore and Harvest Moon.

Autumn also saw the publication of The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology, edited by Robert Epstein, which includes three of my poems, Bundled Wildflowers, edited by Bryan Rickert, which includes one of my poems and the Dutch anthology Aan het Woord 2020, edited by Ferre Denis, Maria de Bie and Nol Hovens, which includes three of my poems. In addition, one new poem was featured in the Haiku-kantelkalender (Haiku Calendar) 2021, edited by Ferre Denis. Falling Petals received an honourable mention in the International Section of the 2020 Haiku Invitational at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and ten haiku were featured in the World Haiku Series with Japanese Translations by Mr Hidenori Hiruta.

a red squirrel on a wooden squirrel feeder in a pine tree

After a busy Autumn we stayed closer to home as Winter rolled in and the temperatures dropped. It became a time for Christmas socials via Zoom and catching up with friends at a safe social distance.

The most popular posts in Winter were Treasures, The Name of the Flower, Making Lemonade, All Souls’ Night, Lines at Dusk and When Winter Melts Away.

Winter also saw forty of my images published in Frameless Sky Issue 13 where I was the Featured Artist and the release of the beautiful anthology Dance Into the Light, edited by Michael Dylan Welch, featuring one of my poems.

A very big thank you to the editors and publishers who featured my work throughout the year.

seagulls feeding in the surf

This has been a year like no other and we sadly lost a number of friends and members of our writing community to Covid-19 and to cancer without being able to say goodbye in the way we normally would.

It has also been a year of growing and connecting in new ways and of communities coming together.

A huge thank you to Frank, Kristjaan, Misky, Ronovan and the team at dVerse Poets for your inspiring poetry prompts, to Brian, Christine, Emily, Heather, Katherine, Ping, Punam, Kristian and Sheryl for your wonderful word prompts and to Becca, Cee, Jez, Lisa, Paula, Sue & Gerry, Terri and Amy, Ann-Christine, Patti & Tina for your fabulous photographic prompts.

We leave with you a song by Show of Hands that seems fitting for our times:

Thank you again for the love and we wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy 2021.

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidings

Word of the Day Challenge: Wishes

Sunday Stills: Your 2020 Retrospective

Haiku: All Souls’ Night

a snowy winter scene in the Cairngorms

all souls’ night
my great-grandparents
play in the snow

© Xenia Tran

close up of branches and heather covered in heavy snow

These images were taken in November 2017 at the start of a beautiful Winter.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/250 s – ISO 320, f/4 – 1/800 s – ISO 100 and f/4 – 1/320 s – ISO 250.

All Souls’ Night was first published in Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, Volume 4:1, Autumn-Winter 2020-2021. A very big thank you to Bruce Ross for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Sunday Stills: Winter Wonderland

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves and Trees

Your Daily Word Prompt: Optimism

Haiku: Fruits of Tomorrow

Apple Blossom

close up shot of apple blossom, buds and leaves

awakening
first apple blossoms
brimming with hope

© Xenia Tran

close up shot of apple blossoms with rhubard growing below

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/1000 s – ISO 100, f/3.5 – 1/400 s – ISO 100 and f/3.5 – 1/500 s – ISO 100.

Carpe Diem’s Time Challenge: First Blossoms

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Cee’s On the Hunt for Joy Challenge #17: Start a Garden

Sunday Stills: Awakening

Silent Sunday: Let There Be Light

close up of two violet tulips in bud
macro shot of a fully flowering Doronicum Little Leo

Wishing all of you a blessed Sunday and those of you who celebrate a Blessed Easter too.

Stay safe and healthy,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Settings: f/5.6 – 1/20 s – ISO 1250, f/3.5 – 1/160 s – ISO 100 and f/3.5 – 1/800 s – ISO 100.

Silent Sunday

Sunday Stills: Lifted Spirits

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Discover Prompt #12: Light

Wordless Wednesday: Emerging Green

macro shot of a tall blade of grass with raindrops
macro shot of a tall blade of grass with raindrop spheres and drops

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and hope you are all safe and well,

with love from Xenia xx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/100 s – ISO 100 and f/4 – 1/200 s – ISO 100.

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday Stills: Up Close and Personal to Green

Jez Braithwaithe’s Water Water Everywhere #19

Silent Sunday: Between Lagoon and Sea

redshank snoozing and sunning on tidal sands
two redshank by the water's edge of a tidal lagoon

Wishing you all a peaceful Sunday, a happy Saint David’s Day to our friends in Wales and a wonderful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60, Settings: f/5 – 1/400 s – ISO 100, f/6.5 – 1/320 s – ISO 200 and f/5.6 – 1/160 s – ISO 100.

Silent Sunday

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #86: Change Your Perspective

Sunday Stills: Photographing Near and Far

Haiku: Turnstone

a turnstone turning over a small pebble between larger stones

little turnstone
every pebble in his world
turning, turning

© Xenia Tran

close up shot of a turnstone turning a small pebble

It was a real treat to see this turnstone in his winter plumage the other day. He foraged for food in the narrow spaces between stones whilst I waited patiently nearby, not wanting to disturb him.

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a wonderful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/6.5 – 1/250 s – ISO 200, f/6.3 – 1/250 s – ISO 200 and f/6.3 – 1/100 s – ISO 200.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #84: Narrow

Sunday Stills: Birds

Silent Sunday: The Boathouse

Faskally Woods

a wooden boathouse on Loch Dunmore in Winter
a wooden boathouse on Loch Dunmore in Winter

Wishing you all a peaceful Sunday and a blessed week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Settings: f/3.2 – 1/125 s – ISO 160, f/4.5 – 1/50 s – ISO 320 and f/2.8 – 1/60 s – ISO 200.

Silent Sunday

Jez Braithwaithe’s Water Water Everywhere #12

Sunday Stills: What Do the Shadows Have to Say

Haiku: Sparrows

close up of a sparrow eating seeds on a weathered bird feeder

little sparrows
sweet songs and gossip spun
around the feeder

© Xenia Tran

three sparrows feeding on a wooden birdfeeder

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/320 s – ISO 100 and f/2.8 – 1/160 s – ISO 100.

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #123: First Sparrows Twittering (hatsusuzumi)

Sunday Stills: Shades of Gray

Rag Tag Daily Prompt: Rhyme

Tanka: Two Herons

Loch Fleet Nature Reserve

a mature blue heron waiting on tidal stones and exposed seaweed

two herons
waiting on tidal stones
one young, one old
a calm we understand
at the heart of it all

© Xenia Tran

tide flowing out at Loch Fleet Nature Reserve

Wishing you all a peaceful Sunday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/6.5 – 1/160 s – ISO 500, f/6.5 – 1/160 s – ISO 400 and f/4 – 1/250 s – ISO 200.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #72: Waiting

Sunday Stills: Calm