Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery, is a symbol of new beginnings.
This seemed like the perfect spring mission with which to task the Lowepro Storytellers.

Each month, the team at Lowepro challenge their Storytellers to a mission, assigning a word or phrase and asking that we show them our visual interpretations.  Because the Storytellers are spread all across the globe, each with their own unique personal style, it is always exciting to see how everyone translates this prompt into pictures.

For April 2017, the prompt was “Greenery”.  As many people know, every year Pantone announces a Colour of the Year.  This colour holds a strong connection to the zeitgeist, the cultural climate of the times.  Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, Greenery, is a symbol of new beginnings.  This seemed like the perfect spring mission with which to task the Lowepro Storytellers.  Following is my submission for this month’s Storyteller Mission.

Together for nine days this past  November, the Editor-in-Chief of Travel + Lesiure Southeast AsiaChris Kucway and I trekked 90km of the  ancient Kumano Kodo, a 900-year-old pilgrimage on Japan’s Kii Peninsula.  The Kumano Kodo is one of only two pilgrimages preserved  as a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site, and it was nothing short of a magical experience.

As Chris so wonderfully articulated  in our March 2017 cover story for T+L, “the Kumano Kodo has many layers.   As a pilgrimage, it’s a mental puzzle, a key that partly unlocks the syncretism between Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan.   Our trek is set up to follow a pattern of death, rebirth and life: you die once but are regenerated on the Kumano Kodo, a Japanese expression points out, one of the many mysteries hidden within this peninsula.”

Perhaps, then, it was natural for me to spend the many hours of peaceful hiking through “stands of Japanese cedar and pine, carpets of red maple leaves [and] vivid mossy stepping stones” meditating about loss and grief.

I  am not a terribly religious person, but a beloved family member recently passed away, and throughout my  (literal and spiritual) journey along the Kumano Kodo, I couldn’t help but think about her and consider the impact of both her life and her death upon me.  Given the Shinto belief that one’s spiritual energy, or kami, is released and recycled upon death — and that natural environments, like waterfalls and mountains, are places in which the  kami  rise – it seems almost inevitable that my thoughts would drift to deep reflection  upon this person’s life, our relationship and the close human  connection we shared during her lifetime.

Click here to see all the Lowepro Storytellers’ greenery submissions.