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An intimate landscape photograph depicting an old cottonwood with spring buds against a sand dune in the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan

Renewal – 2020

Two years ago, a friend and I did some landscape photography in the Great Sandhills in southwest Saskatchewan. As the weekend drew to a close, my friend commented that this tree, sitting in front of the dune, would make an interesting subject. At the time, it was still sleeping from the cold winter and resembled a scene from Namibia.

Fast forward eighteen months and that concept was still in mind, although the idea had developed somewhat. Instead of the brown tree against a dune, I thought it might be interesting to get a spring shot of the tree just as it started to bud. One problem, this nature preserve stood 4 hours away and there was no way to monitor spring conditions as they progressed, especially because there are few cottonwoods around my home. But, based on how spring developed the year prior, I tentatively planned for the May 16th weekend.

As spring got closer, and Covid-19 restrictions opened back up, I began to pay close attention to the local trees knowing that the local aspen and birch would turn before the cottonwoods. So when the local aspen turned with some warmer weather the weekend before, I knew it might be safe to travel the 4 hours to get this photo that weekend. I packed up for the weekend and journeyed to this incredible nature preserve, giving myself a couple of days in the area. Turns out I didn’t need that extra time. That first evening I got this shot as the tree was backlit while the dune was in shade, the sun’s golden rays illuminating the new spring life.

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