I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Forest Woodward’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, and Outside Magazine. He has lived in both Brooklyn, New York, and Stehekin, Washington, one of the most isolated communities in the lower forty-eight states. His hobbies include trail running, rock climbing, and whittling. He took this month’s cover photo of Elsie on the edge of the Funafuti lagoon in Tuvalu, an island country in the South Pacific. Elsie’s father serves in the Tuvalu government as the head of climate adaptation. In the evenings, Tuvaluan children often swim into the lagoon to help clean and bring in the catch of the day.
One of Tuvalu’s outer islands, as seen from the airplane that lands at the capital twice a week.
With help from a young boy, a fisherman cleans the day’s catch at a wharf on Vaitupu, one of Tuvalu’s six coral atolls. In recent years the sale of fishing rights to foreign companies has led to a drastic decline in local fishing.
A rope swing on Nui, one of Tuvalu’s outer islands. The only way to reach Nui is to book passage on a ship that delivers supplies and passengers once every four to six weeks.
A splash at dusk as one of the local children dives beneath the surface of the lagoon.
A fragile strip of land separates the Funafuti lagoon from the Pacific Ocean.
Tuvaluans heading home on foot and by moped after an evening of celebration and feasting during Easter in the capital, Funafuti.
Children at the local school on Nui undergo eye exams. The exams are conducted by a foreign aid organization that visits the island every few years.
Two boys fly paper airplanes amid construction debris near the lagoon on the main island of Funafuti. In the background excavators work to reinforce and expand the beach.
Children play on the piles of sand dredged from the Funafuti lagoon. The sand is used to reinforce the eroding beach in front of government buildings in the capital. With a peak about twenty feet above sea level, the sand piles are the highest point in the country.
Tuvalu is in danger of disappearing due to sea-level rise. The ocean around it is rising about one inch every five years, twice the global average. It’s estimated that an eight- to sixteen-inch increase will be enough to make the country uninhabitable.