Every weekday morning, I sit down at my desk, log on and wait for my 18-year-old cat, Toonces, to jump in my lap. Then I open my email and click on Nature 365.
It's not the stuff of "Nature Gone Wild." There are no raging crocs, no cougars threatening attacks or sharks in a feeding frenzy.
Instead, the daily videos offer one lovely, lingering minute of nature at its most miraculously mundane: A brilliantly colored kingfisher preening itself. A wolf pup emerging from its den. A fish jumping in a mist-shrouded lake, sending ripples across its mirror-like surface.
The project, which highlights the work of famed Minnesota nature photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg, started several years ago, out of happenstance.
A longtime National Geographic photographer and lifelong Minnesotan, Brandenburg had amassed "thousands of hours" of film clips from what he calls his "backyards": his childhood stamping grounds near Luverne (now Touch the Sky Prairie), the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near his home in Ely, and the woods in his Medina yard.
"Taking pictures is my life," he says by way of explanation. "It's what I do."
On an assignment in France, he shared the clips with French photographer Laurent Joffrion and Nature 365 was born.
"There's no music. No ads. Just the sounds of nature," Brandenburg says. "In this day and age of TikTok, when there's so much action, this is just the opposite. It's authentic. Quiet. Understated. It's settling."
He and Joffrion aren't in it for the money (the project has no sponsors, but accepts donations) — or the clicks (though some of the videos rack up millions of them).
"It's a gift," Brandenburg says of nature, which he considers "a healing and calming entity."
Since 2021, Nature 365 has been welcoming other nature photographers — mostly from France and Japan — to share their exotic-seeming "backyards."
And Brandenburg's gift has been a springboard for three feature-length films he's working on.
"Nature 365 figures in about everything I do," he says. "Sometimes when you give, you get something back."
Follow the daily adventures at nature365.tv.