A mother of four, photographer, nature lover. Someone trying to make sense of it all, through photos and stories. 

I try to be free in all senses of the word, so I made the leap and now work with what I love doing; taking pictures, storing this life in moments, both for myself and for clients. My heart is in photographing birth and motherhood, but I take on just about any photography job. 
(See my birth photos at www.birth.no and the rest of my work portfolio at www.mariavatne.no.)

I live on a farm in Norway with my man Nik and my children Ronja, Freja, Falk and Ulv, plus a bunch of animals. We grow our own food as far as the seasons allow it, we don't go to kindergarten, the three youngest ones will be homeschooled.

We govern our own lives, we strive for independence, we want to be in this life wild and free and full of love.

The tale of the three maidens who went camping.

The tale of the three maidens who went camping.

I do not call myself a religious person - I am not a fan of institutions of any kind - but I am definitely a believer. I believe in the Universe, in spirits, in souls and love and energy. I believe in nature. And I believe in signs. I think that if we are sensitive to the signs around us, we will be wiser and will manouver easier in life. It's about using your instincts, in a way. This quote came up on my facebook feed yesterday (Neale Donald Walsch):

The “signs” that we receive from life are pointing us toward the experience that would be most beneficial for our Soul’s evolution. That is the purpose of the signs to begin with. Indeed, it is the purpose of all of life.

Which leads me over to the story I want to tell you, because yes, this story is all about how, if we had listened to the signs, the experience would probably be more benificial for us. 

My two friends Mari and Henriette and myself had planned this camping trip for a while. We are all busy with our daily doings, so finding a date and finally going was important. We were really looking forward to it. After consulting with another friend, we decided to go to an island in a huge lake called Eikeren. It is an impressive lake, and I always want to get to know that area better. So I loaded the canoe up on the trailer, packed my stuff and went. The weather forecast was unstable, as usual in the summer; showers of rain mixed with sunny spells and so on. Being obsessively optimistic about the weather, I ignored the forecast of rain and wind. It will be fine! My mantra.

We arrived by the island, and there was the first sign: The road down to the shore was closed with a gate. I thought Haha, we're not welcome here, and then we proceeded to carry the canoe and all the stuff down to the lake. A lot of stuff, and a big canoe, but we made it. We loaded the canoe up, it was filled to the brim, but we somehow managed to fit ourselves in, too. And just as we left shore, we saw huge and very dark clouds over our heads and the wind caught up considerably. Sign no. 2. Again, that attitude: Haha, how funny is that, just as we're heading out, theres a storm!. (I cringe when I write this.) We paddled out, and there were waves. Big waves. I did feel a bit worried, but I must say I'm glad I didn't know how dangerous that was at the time. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. We shared a beer and somehow managed to get across close to the island.
Commence sign no. 3: Seagulls. Angry seagulls! Angry mother-seagulls, like jetplanes over our heads, ready for the kill, protecting their young ones. We had to use the oars to protect ourselves, or else we would surely have ended up like something straight out of Hithcock's The Birds, it was scary shit. This sign was clear enough so we decided to turn around (wow!) and camp on another side of the island. We made it to shore and took a couple of deep breaths before sign no. 2 came back with a vengeance and a huge rain shower soaked us and our things to the core. We took shelter in the forest and were still naïvely unaware how the Universe was trying to tell us something. The rain subsided and we happily unpacked our stuff and set camp. The place was beautiful but I have to admit; I had a funny feeling all along. It was like I didn't feel happy, and I know I would have normally, I love camping! But something was off. 

We had wine and food and made a bonfire, the lake was still and the sunset beautiful. We looked at the weather forecast and saw that the next day was supposed to be sunny, but very windy. We joked about how we should go back then, because it was still, haha. But we didn't. We stayed. We snuggled up in our sleeping bags, and very soon after we'd said goodnight and had sung each other lullabyes (yes), the wind caught up again. And that's when that knot in my tummy really got strong. I suddenly realized that we were going to be stranded. I could not sleep no matter how I tried - I had a bad feeling. The wind was really grabbing hold of the tent, the waves were crashing onto the shore only a couple of metres from me, there was this strong sense of uneasiness and alertness and I could not drift off. The others awoke in the early morning and it was as if we all had turned completely sober on the situation: We were stuck. The wind was forecast to get stronger during the day, and to not drop off until late the next day. Finally the three maidens believed in the weather forecast, and decided to cry for help. We texted and called everyone we knew in the area, to see if they had a boat or knew anyone with one. I called my sweet friend Tove who I used to work with at the local folk high school, she lives in the village we were by, and she could see the weather and waves from her house. There was no way we could go paddling across the lake with waves like that. They were bigger that the day before, and we realized that we'd actually been very lucky to not tip over then. She promised to call neighbours and to do what she could. We also put a cry for help out on Facebook, which was shared almost a hundred times. Two newspapers called us to interview us about the situation (!), but feeling so stupid, we politely declined. They did not offer to come and get us, though. That would've made a good story!

After many hours of sharing stories, drinking coffee. eating a bit (but rationing the food because we didn't know how long we'd be trapped) hanging out in the tent, having a few good laughs (and a cry) about the situation, we had feedback. Tove called and said her neighbour would come after work! And then, two more people volunteered. We decided to go for the neighbour, because he had the shortest way to travel (the two others volunteered to come from quite a distance away!). We went skinny dipping in the lake to celebrate, packed up our stuff and the three maidens were rescued by a kind man in a motor boat. 

Safe back on land, I felt so thankful for these girls and yet so embarrassed for our naïve behaviour. But yes; sometimes one has to do stupid things to really learn a lesson. Also, being out of my comfort zone for a bit reminded me again of how privilieged I am. We were never in real danger, we knew someone would come eventually - or we'd just wait until the next day. On a global scale, this was no drama - but it was obviously something we needed to experience to become wiser and more grounded campers.

So thankful for the man who picked us up and for all the sweet people who helped via Facebook! 

Listen to the signs, folks. Love from the three maidens.

High season.

High season.