The Changing Seasons, November 2018


New growth, grapevine. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Time’s a strange thing. It is defined by its measurement, objective and increasingly precise. Yet even as we observe the system, we experience time in our own unique and subjective ways.

I think about this every month as I begin to write my Changing Seasons post, aware that I experience the passing of different months in very different ways. Indeed I would say I’ve experienced November as almost outside of time, anchored by neither nature nor culture.

In my garden, plants seem to be flourishing, but not in dramatic ways. Blossom has given way to fruit but none of it is ripe. About the only thing that’s noticeably grown is the grape vine.


It never bears fruit, but in the words of 10cc “it hides an ugly stain (alright, fence) that’s lying there”. Image: Su Leslie 2018

In all the years we’ve lived here, the vine has never produced grapes. Its utility lies instead in covering — at least for a few months a year — a particularly ugly fence.

I am a utility gardener, and while I appreciate the masking properties of the vine, I want more from it. In one of those moments which, in a movie would carry ominous soundtrack warnings, I thought it might be fun to try cooking with the vine leaves.

Fondly imagining some tasty little herby halloumi parcels, I set off across the lawn with my secateurs.


Fresh vine leaves. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Online, I found lots of advice on blanching the leaves for preserving, and lots of recipes using preserved leaves — but not a lot on using blanched leaves more or less straight away.

With our little vine I can’t really harvest enough leaves to be worth preserving — and besides I wanted to cook NOW.

“NOW” has proved to be a very fluid term. It took me the better part of a day to figure out a combination of blanching, soaking and simmering that would render fibrous leaves edible, turning a quick snack into an edible marathon medal.


Blanched, soaked, simmered; topped with a slice of halloumi and fresh herbs. Good to go. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The parcels themselves are pretty quick to make. I added my new favourite herb combination of oregano and lemon thyme, and cooked them in a lightly oiled skillet for a few minutes on each side.



Halloumi-stuffed vine leaves with quick-pickled red onion and pomegranate seeds. Image: Su Leslie 2018

The verdict: the dish worked quite well. The pickled onions and pomegranate seeds balanced the salty cheese and I liked the background taste of the herbs. The leaves were ok; still a bit chewy and fibrous, and I wouldn’t serve them to guests.

The idea of garden to table living is incredibly appealing to me, and is indeed what I am aiming for eventually. In that context, the time spent fiddling about cooking leaves doesn’t feel wasted, and I’m not disappointed in the final outcome. I have discovered reserves of patience and tenacity I don’t always think I have, and learned quite a lot about a food I’ve only ever eaten in restaurants and as a take-away.

When I look back on my November, I realise I have spent a great deal of it on projects like this; learning and practicing skills that haven’t necessarily produced the kind of results I would want to photograph, but have changed me for the better.

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.


Little Pieces of MeChanging of the Season — November 2018 and Changing of the Season — November 2018 (Riding Edition)

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Lee at Ladyleemanila

Ju Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Deb at The Widow Badass Blog

Jude at Under a Cornish Sky

Mick at Mick’s Cogs


Coming soon …


I am late with my November Changing Seasons post.

It’s partly due to circumstances I can’t control and am still too grumpy about to mention, but mostly because I decided to do a sort of “garden to table” food post and, frankly, I wish I hadn’t.

But looking at my photo archive for the month it (really) seemed like a good idea. And besides I am dogmatic in the face of failure.

That and the fact the dish should be a 10 minute job.

For anyone sensible enough to buy the key ingredient.

But since it is “the garden” part of the post, I’m honour-bound to at least attempt homemade.

I’m not quite ready to give up yet, but I do promise that –whatever happens with the last batch of thingamies — I WILL put up a post before November 30th.

Hooray for the International Date Line.

A rather odd memorial?

Seen in Warkworth, North Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2018

My first thought on seeing this sign today was to wonder what transgression one might have to commit in order to be memorialised by a stormwater pond.

My second was “who was Lucy Moore?”

It turns out that the aforementioned pond is in Lucy Moore Memorial Park (not well sign-posted), and that Lucy Moore (1906-1987) was one of New Zealand’s foremost botanists.

Te Ara, the New Zealand Encyclopaedia says:

Lucy Moore was sometimes called ‘the mother of New Zealand botany’ and few botanists may ever again equal her range of expertise. She once recalled, ‘we were jacks, or jills, of many trades’. Much more than this, hers was a many-sided expertise, inspired by a vision, and practised with dedication.

Born on a farm near Warkworth, she attended Epsom Girls Grammar School and the University of Auckland, gaining a first-class MSc in 1929.

The same year she was awarded the Duffus Lubecki Scholarship, which she also received in 1930 and 1931 for further research. She began work in 1932 as a demonstrator in zoology at Auckland University College. — Te Ara

Unable to obtain a tenured academic position, Lucy Moore had a long career as a senior scientist with the DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) — the government’s research institute.

She was a recipient of many honours. In 1945 she was elected a fellow of the exclusive Linnean Society of London. She was made an MBE in 1959, and in 1963 the University of Canterbury gave her its DSc for her Hebe research. A fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand from 1947, she was awarded its Hutton Memorial Medal in 1965. In the same year she delivered the Leonard Cockayne Memorial Lecture. In 1974 she was awarded the Sir Ernest Marsden Medal for Service to Science by the New Zealand Association of Scientists. — Te Ara

Lucy Moore retired to Warkworth to care for a sick brother in 1980, remaining active in local and environmental issues until her death in 1987.

I’m really glad to have found out about this amazing, pioneering woman, but a little surprised that the park signage offered so little information about the woman after which it was named.

Little shop of delights

Studio Sale, Claire Delaney Studio, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

I’m a buyer, not a shopper. I tend to know what I need and dislike shopping as recreation.

There are exceptions of course. I love bookshops (especially second-hand) and small independent galleries.

And pop-up shops run by those who make the products; like my friend Claire’s studio sale last weekend.

Studio Sale, Claire Delaney Studio, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Claire makes her living entirely from art — teaching, painting and book illustration. Her annual pre-Christmas sale — which this year included the new edition of her book Little Wing — is an important source of her income.

I’m pleased to say that (appropriately) Little Wing was flying off the shelves, and there were lots of red stickers on the original art too.

Ragtag Daily Prompt | Shop

Just what the doctor ordered

There is quite a lot of evidence that engaging in creative activities improves health — mental and physical. Writing, drawing, painting, making crafts or music, even doodling and colouring in — they can all help to focus our thoughts, increase our happiness, boost our immune systems and even help treat dementia.

I’ve experienced periods of depression for most of my adult life. Of all the treatments I’ve tried, what seems to work best is making stuff; focusing my mind and hands and energy on some creative project, however small. At the moment, it’s Christmas cards.

I’m always a bit reluctant to recommend anything, especially for something as serious as mental health, but there is a significant body of research behind this — and it works for me.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | recommendation