The Changing Seasons, January 2020


Kowhai seedlings. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The month/year started well enough. Having got through Christmas without the usual stresses, I gave myself time to think about, and write down, some goals and plans. Against the backdrop of a troubled world, they are very modest and focused on how to live simply and gently. My strategy, I decided, would be summed up as proactive hopefulness.

With Auckland emptied out for the holidays, the Big T and I made an effort to enjoy the city’s parks and beaches.

We were doing so well …

Then on January 5th smoke from the Australian bush-fires combined with atmosphere conditions to turn Auckland’s mid-afternoon’s skies orange. By 5pm it was impossible to see without artificial lighting. It seemed the future had arrived and it was apocalyptic.


Lights on at 5pm. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Since then, the smoke has moved on — across the Pacific to Chile and beyond. Life has continued, and as holiday-makers have returned to fill the city with noise and traffic congestion, I’ve spent more time at home, much of it in my garden.

In the end, January has been a month of small things — both joys and disappointments.

I’ve managed to keep the gifted hydrangeas alive, and indeed they are thriving. Sadly, lack of water has killed some of my kowhai seedlings, and none of the latest batch of seeds has germinated yet. But the fruit trees and herb gardens are abundant, so my challenge is to put the harvest to good use.

An almost total absence of rain means we are being even more careful with water. Interestingly, it doesn’t feel like a hardship and I’m actually rather proud of my conservation efforts.

A chance meeting with an old friend who is developing an off-grid organic farm proved inspiring; giving us a chance to see what can be done — and how much work is involved. Our search for rural land has intensified.

As I write this, The Big T is texting me from Adelaide (South Australia) where the plane he arrived on has been sitting on the tarmac for almost an hour while heavily masked and suited medical personnel attend to several apparently unwell passengers who may be suffering from the coronavirus. He assures me that the authorities are just being “super vigilant” but it is hard not to worry.


Waikato River at Mercer, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. — Marcus Aurelius

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share whatโ€™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
  • Donโ€™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
  • Donโ€™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.


Please visit these bloggers to see what January 2020 was like for them.

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Marilyn at Serendipity seeking intelligent life on Earth

A Wonderful Sheep

Darren, The Arty Plantsman

Sarah at Art Expedition

Little Pieces of Me

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind, who also posted this which fits well with the Changing Seasons

Brian at Bushboys World

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Joining us for the first time, Wanderlust and Wonderment

Gill at Talking Thailand




94 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons, January 2020

  1. Su Leslie; I really would like to meet you. I find myself nodding so often when I read your posts. They are always interesting, great thought processes, beautiful photos, and – apart from the huge environmental disasters – you lilve in a corner of paradise…. so where is my one-way ticket?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could organise a blogging meet up! Perhaps I should start buying lottery tickets. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Of course the problem with wanting to come to paradise is that as soon as people do, it ceases to be paradise — as I’m sure Maori found when Europeans starting arriving here in the 19th century. And indeed, as our native flora and fauna found when Polynesian explorers arrived before that.

      Liked by 3 people

      • You are so right (again!). My love for your country began when I met a (then) young woman who had such a different attitude to life than ‘we good Swiss citizens’ that I started a friendship with her. Her kids were absolutely WILD, out of control in every respect, not much beloved by their teachers, they gave sicknesses, colds and more to all the children in the neighbourhood, but their mum and I worked together in homeopathy and learned a lot of each other. With her help and my ‘searching for truth in all things’ I brought my son to adulthood, even though he sometimes had to wait for his globuli very long bc his mum found yet another interesting ‘side line’ in my heavy Materia Medica…. Our dog also was treated that way and got to the ripe age of 18+ years. Since that time New Zealand ‘had me’. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a really, really beautiful space and the only terrible downside is that it is VERY FAR of everywhere! Having lived myself in Canada, England, France and Switzerland, I have decided that with my looming Zimmer Frame NZ is a tad too far…. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • There’s a line in the Split Enz song “Six Months in A Leaky Boat” about “the tyranny of distance” — and it captures so much about this country. The title refers to how long it took early pioneers to get here.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel I could learn a lot from your approach Su. There is an overwhelming heap of stuff to worry about these days and I need to try to focus again on the little things that give pleasure.

    I love your photos as always and they give me a sense of peace today – thank you.

    I hope T is OK? I have had cold symptoms for the last few days and it is hard not to think about it in the context of the campus where I work being full of newly-returned students from China…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Darren. I do feel overwhelmed quite often by how many things have turned to crap. Trying to find the positives, and things I can influence is pretty much my mental health strategy.
      I hope it is just a cold that you have. I was already worried about my son returning to university soon, as Auckland has a very large Chinese student community. T’s trip to Adelaide was very last-minute, which was probably a good thing. Less time for me to fret about it — until I got his text!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Looks like despite it all, you had a good month. Good for you. I’m always happy to hear pleasant news on social media and I have to remind myself that the good stuff is out there, even if it’s having a normal week or day. Those count, too!

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. Thanks for the link Su. It has been a rather up and down month for you. I do hope T is ok, this new threat is turning the world into a science fiction horror story with all the images of people in masks and whole cities being in shut down. The world is lurching from one catastrophe to another..NZ certainly is one of the safer countries in the world

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Su, I didn’t want to go ‘into the virus discussion’ as I’ve read in several papers that actually it’s not that much of a danger when you’re not in direct contact with a contaminated person. A lot more people die of the ‘common flu’ every year. But I also won’t deny that you must be worrying your heart out for T – maybe your husband should have refrained from giving you this info. Hero Husband wouldn’t have ‘bothered’ to let me know – because he always says that in hindsight ‘if it didn’t hurt you, it wasn’t worth worrying about’…. but that is HIS attitude. I too would have informed you right away. (sighing deeply)…. Can’t win, sometimes, can you? Let us know if he is alright, please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much. He seems pretty relaxed about it. He’s due home later today, so I guess we’ll see. I’m trying to sort the genuine information from the scaremongering, and realise that we’re pretty low risk — at least at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This didnโ€™t let me sleep…. I kept thinking about your feelings and your Angst – whereas โ€˜our menโ€™ seem so cool and unconcerned. Was going to ask you about Tโ€™s state of health and wellbeing. And now you have replied and Iโ€™ll stop worrying. Shall go back to bed (itโ€™s 5.30am here)

        Liked by 1 person

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  8. Once again it is your foodie photos that have me drooling ๐Ÿคค I know not a pretty sight. Pickled onions and cucumber were my cravings with my last pregnancy. I suffered badly from sickness not even able to keep a glass of water down, but I lived on pickled sandwiches! Weird eh? I’m sure the Big T will be fine, he’s a healthy bloke, but I can see how you’d worry some. Sometimes I wonder if there will come a time when scientists will deliberately release a virus to reduce the world’s population, but I probably read too many novels (Fever by Deon Meyer if you can get hold of it is an interesting book). Not sure I have much to contribute this month. I have been so busy with the light challenge that I haven’t given this a thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had custard cravings when I was pregnant! And I went off garlic big-time. It was the only thing that made me feel really ill.
      T seems pretty relaxed about it all; he travels a lot. Having said that, he has also caught so many bugs and brought them home ….
      He is probably a bit healthier than usual because he’s been traveling less. At one stage he was away more than at home and doing back-to-back long-haul travel. Healthy was not a term I’d have used for him then!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The OH used to do a lot of long-haul travelling for conferences and he was a wreck! He suffered badly from jet-lag. The one thing I went off completely when I was pregnant (all 4 times) was coffee. I couldn’t even bear the smell of it. The only time I have really drunk tea.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s horrible watching them suffer from all the travel. We could pretty much guarantee that T would be ill after any long trip. Which always seemed to coincide with some social event at home that he either couldn’t attend or couldn’t enjoy.

          Liked by 1 person

          • His role has changed a bit, and the company has started using Skype-type meetings more. They used to send a bunch of people from all over the world to almost quarterly meetings in different places.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s about time companies used virtual conferencing facilities, the option has been around for years! Instead of flying people all over the world for a 3 day meeting. Once the OH had to fly to San Diego for a 3 hour meeting! Ludicrous. We could stop a lot carbon emissions from flights if companies used technology. Sorry, this has been a particular rant of mine for years.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Donโ€™t apologise; itโ€™s my rant too. Tโ€™s trips so often involved spending more time traveling than being in the meetings. Heโ€™s had several trips to Europe for two day conferences. You know how long it takes to get to/from NZ!
            The downside is that heโ€™s more or less a one-man-band here, and he misses colleague contact.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Your pictures are beautiful and sensitive. Most of my pictures are, unsurprisingly, birds and other things indoors. It may be warmer than usual, but it isn’t warm. It remains the middle of our winter and today it was downright cold. I checked today to see if the crocus were up. They aren’t. I didn’t think they would be. I’m better they will be up in another two weeks. I almost never see them because the garden is covered in oak leaves and I need to clean the garden out before i can see anything but leaves. They keep the garden warm in the winter, but by spring, they are simply in the way of everything.

    Birds. Lots and lots of birds. My post will be up just after Midnight here.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m a bit late to the party/post, Su, but it’s been a busy day. Your garden, produce, and bread look delightful and delicious, but that yellow sky!! That coronavirus thing is scary but I imagine Big T will be fine. My husband just told me there’s a case in a suburb near us. I love your “proactive hopefulness.” So glad to read Christmas wasn’t stressful for you. Ours was quite nice as well, but seems like a long time ago. ๐Ÿ™‚


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet. We’ve been fortunate that whatever atmospheric conditions that produced the ash-skies hasn’t been repeated. It was so depressing and send a few otherwise fairly positive people I know into a real tail-spin.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Those raindrops seem very dreamy to me, Su. As does an escape to the country in such a beautiful location. If you do go rural, please include a fire bunker in your plans because you never know. It won’t go to waste either way because you could use it store all your preserves, etc. How’s that for proactive hopefulness?

    Liked by 2 people

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      • Please keep us posted, Su. I don’t think our government has handled the plane issue at all well. They seem to be playing catch up all the time. Naturally I am a very anxious person, so I probably over-react though.

        My eldest son starts back at uni next week. He has two units to go to finish his degree. He says he is going to finish even if it kills him! Since he still lives at home, and even if he didn’t, I took no comfort from that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I will Tracy. He’s due home this evening. Our government is much the same, but it is difficult to know where to pitch a response so as to deal with the actual threat without creating panic.

          I can understand your concern about your son. My boy doesn’t go back to Uni until the end of Feb, so hopefully institutions will be a little more organise by then.


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  17. So much to love in this post – as usual. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The delicate kowhai seedlings, the beautiful beaches and of course your plum jam and bread have me drooling all over my phone!! ๐Ÿ˜ (How is it that I always seem to be hungry when I’m reading your posts, no matter the time of day? ๐Ÿ˜‚)
    And I totally love the look and sound of that rural off-grid organic farm!! So hope you’ll find your place soon!
    That must be very worrying to receive such a text from the Big T – I’ll keep my fingers crossed that all will be well! And also for the Boy Child – I remember our school receiving Chinese delegates from a partner school when SARS broke out! We were all worried but luckily nothing happened. Thinking of you and wishing you strength! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you my friend. T seems pretty relaxed about everything, and he travels a lot so I just have to hope. It’s a few more weeks before Uni starts for the boy, so hopefully the authorities will have a better idea how to handle things.
      I hope we find land soon too. Life here feels like a bit of a holding pattern, and I really want to start doing the things I really believe in.

      Liked by 1 person

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  22. I will attempt to do what you have decided: to live simply and gently. This gives me a chance to live each day without being overwhelmed by despair and fear.

    I have put the Marcus Aurelius quote as my Desktop Background.

    P/S That is one good-looking loaf of bread

    Liked by 1 person

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