In a recent blog post, I wrote about how sometimes what you have in mind for your life, is not always the same as what life has in mind for you. It seems that this is a common thread among children’s authors. We don’t often set out to become children’s authors, but somehow, something in our lives, inspires us to walk down a different path. There is something that leads us to become children’s authors and so often, it is something we have found in nature that we wish to share with others.
Recently, I had the pleasure to make acquaintance with wildlife photographer, Lieve Snellings. Her story, like mine, is about how nature inspired her to become a children’s author. I would like to share her story with you.
Before going to Quebec I couldn’t even recognize a sparrow
By Lieve Snellings
It was in 2008 that I flew to Quebec for the first time. At that moment I even wasn’t able to recognize a sparrow. Now, seven years later, I have published two books with Margot the groundhog as main character, in the series ‘Fauna in Quebec. Surprising images about life in nature.’
Isn’t it amazing what love can do? My partner, a nature photographer, lit the wick of passion for nature photography inside me. Every time I come in Canada (and since my first travel, I live there for four to five months per year), we regularly go to the National Parcs Maizerets and Cap Tourmente. But actually we do not have to go so far to see birds and animals. They come into our backyard and the field behind the garden. It should come as no surprise that I spend a lot of my time there. In normal life I do not have that much patience, but bird watching and viewing wildlife relaxes me completely. It tickles my fancy, absorbs me completely and I feel myself watching with admiring astonishment, the child in me enjoying all these discoveries. It is such beauty that I see passing before my eyes that a new world opened up to me.
Nature Photography was a job I had to learn. At the slightest movement the birds will fly away or the animal is on the run. Those first weeks, with a little luck I could just see these creatures disappear from the picture. Through trial and error I learned that the first thing I had to do is to observe. A bird for example, comes back to the same place, the woodchuck sits at the entrance of her burrow and enjoys the sun in the morning. Additionally, these little creature have to get used to me. I learned that I only very gradually was allowed to come a step closer in the hope that they didn’t see me as a threat. I learned that there is always a line I should not cross, a minimum distance that I have to respect.
Knowing nothing about the fauna in Quebec, those first years I always had a Quebecois bird and fauna book by the hand. It’s funny that the sparrow, which I couldn’t call by name in Belgium, I learned to recognize as a ‘moineau domestique’ and only afterwards I could see in the translation that this was a ‘huismus’ or a sparrow. Why did I always used to have a negative connotation when I heard about a sparrow? Maybe because I didn’t know the bird and a bias squeaked up after hearing the name. This feathered friend is in fact very beautiful.
One evening I had counted 24 different birds that came to visit our garden that day in addition to a woodchuck, three different types of squirrels, a raccoon, and a chipmunk. Since I started photographing fauna in Quebec, I have acquired a large photo bank and those images cried to be published.
I started thinking about that. How could I do it? Finally, I decided to make a story about Eufrazie, the American red squirrel. It would be a children’s story in which the photos would outline the narrative. Only this hadn’t reckoned Margot the groundhog. After she awoke from hibernation that spring, she hijacked all my attention and the first books were all about her.
Margot gets an unexpected visit
Het Grote Weetjesboek over de bosmarmot / The Big Tidbits Book on the groundhog will soon be published in english
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/snellings