A Story of Nurses

An immersive, audio-driven, essay film that bears witness to the experiences of nurses providing care to Covid19 patients at the beginning of the pandemic 

In May of 2021, I invited nurses who were providing care on the frontlines of the pandemic to share their stories with me. It was a big request, and I knew it. Though the pandemic had been underway for over a year, many had not begun to process all they had experienced.

From May through September, I recorded ten hours of stories from the nurses who agreed to participate. They worked in the ER, ICU, and Covid units of hospitals in a variety of states in the U.S. This film bears witness to the experiences they shared with me.

The voices of the nurses themselves narrate the story. The visuals are intended to support the viewer in listening deeply and engaging with the emotions of the experiences, rather than illustrate them literally with images of hospital rooms, masks, and ventilators that have become all-too-prevalent in our news streams.

I created this project as a service offering for a year-long program I participated in through Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The support of my collegial cohort led by Roshi Joan Halifax was steadfast as I sought to figure out my path into story as an act of bearing witness to suffering.

Through my MFA studies at California Institute of Integral Studies, I had opportunities to workshop the film as it was in progress and benefitted greatly from the insights of my fellow students, artists in an array of different disciplines. Crafting the visuals for the film was my greatest challenge, and I am especially indebted to the visual artists in the group who helped me learn their ways of seeing their art and coached me in applying those principles to mine.

I send my profound gratitude to all who helped me along the way, most especially to the nurses who entrusted their stories to me.

Jules of Nature

With her trusty Canon camera in hand, J. Marion Brown has honed the practice of paying attention to a fine art (literally) as she catches moments in nature the rest of us miss. 

JMarionBrown by Adrienne Camhi

Since November of 2011, Brown has been sharing a photograph each day on her tumblr site, JULES OF NATURE, pairing each of her images with an astutely chosen quote, offering, as her website says, “food for the soul and a feast for the eyes.” I start my day there every morning over coffee for the lovely pause it gives me. Awhile back, I asked her to tell me why she likes being behind the lens. Her answer is in this short video about her work, a labor of love that’s become a way of life for her.

She has been taking pictures since her kids were born, but became passionate about nature photography in the 1990s when she began camping with her family on the property in the Wisconsin woods where they ultimately built a home, after years of testing it out first in tents.

PHOTOGRAPH of J. Marion Brown by Adrienne Camhi. MUSIC in video by Wall Matthews. Photographs in video by J. Marion Brown. NATURE SOUNDS by R. H. Humphries.

Home | A Story of Return 

“We carry each of us an urn of native soil…sweet enough to find the smell of home.” — Malcolm Cowley, “The Urn”

Believe it or not, the song that provides the storyline for this video was inspired by a 1969 Harmony ukulele, my own uke as a kid. I wrote about it in a post three years ago called “Welcome Home, Cowboy Bob.” In some ways, this post should actually be titled “Cowboy Bob: The Sequel,” because like the original story, this one, too, explores the theme of leaving and returning, of what we choose to hold on to and what we choose to leave behind, and how our perception of which should be which can change over time.

Quotes in the video, in order of appearance, by: Malcolm Cowley, Joan Didion, e.e. cummings, Herte Müller