between land and sea

Images: Henrik Emtkjær Hansen &  Words: Melanie Kettner

When we seek some peace, we normally leave the city heading towards the Wadden Sea. The family of my grandfather hails from the Northern Sea. Just a few weeks ago, for New Year’s Eve, we went there and at night we stood in the garden, directly at the Wadden Sea and nature reserve, listening to those many bird voices, seemingly millions of them. Our dog stood immobile, fixing the darkness and harkening to the voices from the Wadden Sea. He obviously was under the spell of the wilderness. For me, there is no better way to start the year, than being so close to the wild nature I derive from. Henrik’s images from the National Park Wadden Sea in Denmark mean a lot to me, as they are  reflecting my deep home feeling.

The Wadden Sea is a national park in Denmark and Germany, declared from the UNESCO as World Heritage Destination. The Wadden Sea National Park has a huge ecological importance as the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats. National Parks are pieces of untouched nature, where nature may develop freely, without human interference– here in the North not just the animals and plants are preserved, but also the typical landscape with its tidal flats and tidal creeks, dunes and salt meadows. It’s really magic to observe this landscape from above, it’s like an endless painting, which is never quite the same, as the sea is changing it constantly.

The German Wadden Sea fulfils different international criteria for protected areas and was identified as United Nations World Heritage and United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Here you live between between the land and the sea, the landscape is formed by the salt marshes, the tidal creeks, and defined by the dunes and the sand banks. The tidal flat forms the meeting point between land and sea and and the flood dictates your day, your walks. On stormy days it’s always such a wonder, when from our house all of a sudden you see the sea coming up the bay. The tidal flat surfaces are flooded twice a day at high tide, the tidal range is three metres. The tidal creeks form the connection with the open sea.

The tides are really impressive, but the Wadden Sea is the flawless and quite water, in no other place in Germany and Denmark it is possible to encounter so many migrating birds. I remember days in summer spent on a completely lonesome and peaceful meadow near the Wadden Sea laced with wildflowers, laying in the sun and listening to the sound of nature. Simultaneously on the other site of the isle where we spend our holidays, there is the turbulent ocean with high dunes and huge waves on normal days.

Henrik’s series about the Danish Wadden Sea perfectly displays the pureness and quietness of this calm area. And they remind me of the feeling of being apart from the turbulences of daily life. You sense the might of nature there when you have a walk in the still dark morning, hearing the millions of bird voices, the storm hauling with the wild sea so near. I think we all need some roots and the reassurance of belonging to a place. And I have this sensation when we come over the huge dunes and suddenly the rough Northern Sea displays all its majestic and wild indomitability, surely unrulable.

I remember the stories my grandfather told us about the the big flood from 1962 where the sea revealed its dangerous site. The homes of about 60,000 people were destroyed.I guess all the families deriving from this area have there stories that are told to the coming generations on cold winter evenings while drinking tea near the fireplace. Maybe therefore I prefer staying in the Wadden Sea area for its peaceful and meditative character.

More information about the Wadden Sea here and here.

© all pictures Henrik Emtkjær Hansen with kind permission

Follow Henrik on Instagram here.

An inspiring week for you, my dear readers! Have a wonderful time! Yours, Melanie Kettner