Interview | Lean Timms
I woke early before the sun had time to rise. The highway was clear and I followed signs for Chattanooga. The roads were familiar even when I turned off to meet her at a place she called a piece of home. There was a field full of flowers and a sky heavy with rain. We made our way down a path that opened up to a hillside filled with wildflowers and weeds. The sun peeked through and the morning seemed to wake them bringing out the greens and yellows and purples. She looked at me and said, “isn’t it just beautiful,” with an accent that she said she often forgets about.
She was a faint memory of smiles and hugs from a brief, previous encounter, but as we walked through tall grass and down rocky paths we caught up like old friends – talking about marriage and the beauty of Tennessee. The rumbling of the water grew stronger and when we rounded the corner to the falls she pointed towards a large boulder and we sat and watched the water pour.
“I’m not very good with words,” she said and laughed a sweet laugh when I asked her about her work as a traveling photojournalist and blogger. “Lean & Meadow has been going since December / January. I started just wanting to do food and travel and that’s still what I want to focus on - that’s my absolute love - but I started to interview people in the Jacksonville area because I wanted to meet creatives. I was really interested in how people lived their lives day to day and got by doing something they loved. Then I started to travel a lot – I mean three American years I’ve been able to travel and it’s been wonderful.” She stopped for a moment to take in the surroundings and a long breath.
Lean and her husband moved to America from Australia three years ago and she has been pursuing her love of food and travel and photography all the while. She started as a dancer and an arts teacher out of college but was drained by the children’s lack of interest. After a move to London and back and then to America she picked up a camera – something she had done a few times during her teaching career – and fell in love. She spoke softly and precisely about her years as a teacher and sat up straighter as we pressed into what drives her love for capturing moments and exploration.
“It’s absolutely just making the best out of life,”
she said as she looked up for the right words. “Seeing how other people make the most out of their lives and experiencing the world and seeing all that it has to offer. All of it’s simple pleasures and all it’s you know, culture filled moments. That’s the stuff that really drives me - to get off my ass and go and enjoy the world. I’ve always had a lot of energy and to put that into a specific direction and really enjoy – like this,” she looked up and closed her eyes for a moment to take in the sounds, “the waterfall and all these places you’d never expected you’d go to and getting to meet people who are driven and passionate about something that they love. That’s what drives me. Going back to four years ago when I was in a classroom and teaching really naughty children and just being unhappy with my work, I wasn’t ceasing the most of life. There’s so much out there to explore and to do and to love and enjoy and I think that’s what really pushes me.” Her words quickened as she approached the end but the excitement stayed in her eyes. “Food is also a really big motivator for me. I eat a lot,” she laughed and paused for a moment, “I’m really into exploring different foods - the whole local sustainable food movement is really important to me too.”
Our conversation was long and interrupted by sounds and sights that were beautiful and we weren’t unhappy about it. We continued on about local foods and government involvement. We both shifted our seating slightly and began to talk about being women and creatives and the correlation between the two. “I love that you brought it up because anyone that knows me well knows that I am an equalist– it’s very important to me. It’s why I married my husband which sounds so backwards, but I married him because he does not treat me any differently because I’m a woman – we both share everything equally – to the point where if he does pull out my chair or open the door I make a point to do it next time.” On this topic she spoke with eloquent grace and strength. “And I agree I think that it’s really important for women just to be active in the role of feminism as opposed to just sitting around and talking about it. I like the idea of living life differently and exploring different ways you can live as opposed to what was normal in the 1950s or even now. It’s about having the freedom and being able to live your life – it’s so important to me.”
Her words stayed with me as we got up and took a long path out of the falls. We continued to share life stories and experiences and as we hiked and spoke the rain that was held so tightly in the sky started to fall. By the end of the hike we were soaked to the bone and smiling and laughing. All of it gave the feeling of utter freedom - of life and adventure and the ability to do what we love and how big a gift that is as women and artists but also simply as human beings.