The Changing Seasons, March 2020

img_6831 A moment of reflection. Spider monkey, Auckland Zoo. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Welcome to the third fourth attempt I’ve made to write this Changing Seasons post.

It’s not that there is nothing to say about March 2020; just that I’m still trying to process an extraordinary 31 days that began with a visit to Auckland Zoo and ended with me spending an entire day trying to buy groceries (to be fair, I was shopping for two households).

Standing in a queue that snaked around the supermarket car-park, I caught a tiny glimpse of what everyday life must have been like for older friends and family members who lived through World War II rationing, or in the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. The difference is that when I reached the front of the queue, there was still food to buy — and at a price I could afford.

It’s been just over a month since the first case of Covid 19 was reported in Aotearoa New Zealand. Even though we’d watched and read about what was happening overseas,  life carried on in much the same rhythm for most of us for another couple of weeks.

But March has been a month of two halves; and all of a sudden, the number of new cases each day began to rise alarmingly, our borders were closed to all but returning nationals, and finally on March 26 the nation was placed under a four week rahui (1)

My thoughts about this extraordinary situation are muddled and constantly changing, so instead of inflicting my confusion upon you, I am simply going to share photos from the slightly less weird part of the month — when visits to the zoo and community fun days were still possible and normal.

The Stillwater Raft Race was held on March 17th; a reminder of how small communities are so good at getting together and having fun. T and I stumbled upon this accidentally, thinking we’d just go for a quiet walk along the estuary path.

Both T and I largely grew up in Auckland, so zoo visits have been part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Today’s zoo, with its emphasis on animal welfare and involvement in several conservation projects, is a world away from our horrible memories of bears and big cats endlessly pacing small cages.

The latest project is a South East Asian Jungle Track — a massive new development that is providing a more natural high canopy habitat for orangutan and siamangs, with further developments for tigers, otters, crocodiles and other Asian reptiles. It was due to open about now, but as the zoo is also under rahui, the animals are able to explore their new home without human visitors.

And now, with my horizons narrowed for at least a few weeks, I treasure and enjoy my garden even more.

IMG_7737 Kakabeak (clianthus maximus). Grown from seed and looking stronger every day. Image: Su Leslie 2020
IMG_7720 Kowhai seedlings (Sephora microphylla). Reforesting NZ one roasting dish full of plants at a time. Image: Su Leslie 2020
img_6836 And still we have tomatoes. Su Leslie 2020

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.


A Wonderful Sheep

Lady Lee Manila

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

Sarah at Art Expedition

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

  1. Rahui is a Maori word which means to put in place a temporary ban or restriction on an area, resource, stretch of water — or in this case a nation of people. It is a form of protection, and seems like a much kinder and more positive word than “lock-down.”




96 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons, March 2020

  1. Thank you for sharing your post, Su. I know it’s not easy to write during this time, but your photos lift the spirit. One can’t help but feel hopeful seeing new life spring forth. And the community you foster here has been so supportive and meaningful. I love that we can reach out to each other online during this time, all over the world. It really reinforces the truth that we are not alone. So thank you! ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Pingback: March 2020 Doodle Calendar – The Changing Seasons – A wonderful sheep

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  4. A lovely mix to represent the montage of feelings and events that was March. It’s funny, usually when you look at zoo photos, you know you’re looking at zoo photos, but yours look like they were captured in the wild. The lighting is always so amazing in your photos. Here’s to a brighter April!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. A month like we’ve never had before Su, but let’s hope it will eventually return to some sort of normality. A great gallery of animal photos. Yes zoos have changed so much, quite a pleasure to look around and that was such a happy, fun community activity you stumbled across. Our gardens give us so much joy to see things growing and I think more people are starting gardens if the absence of seedlings and packets of seeds in Bunnings is anything to go by. Here’s my month Thank you for hosting this monthly challenge Su. I find it so interesting to go back and see what I was doing in 2019 and 2018 when life was normal.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oooo, those cockatoos! Yes, “lockdown” is really something they do in prisons, so I don’t care for it, either. If everyone just used common sense and precautions, everyone could do a reasonable amount and still be safe. However…


    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: The Changing Seasons: March 2020 – Ladyleemanila

    • Thanks Margaret.
      I feel a bit like that. I had to check the dates of the photos to make sure they were taken in the last month.
      We’ve gone from more or less “business as usual” to “closing up shop” virtually overnight.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fabulous, Su! Well worth waiting for, and thanks for not dwelling on the negative. We can all sink into the trough of confusion, can’t we, so a little escapism with the apes is a treat. I can be quite good at monkeying about! 🙂 🙂 Take care, hon!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your photos are lovely. I love animals. It’s a horrible time that we are all living in at the moment, but it will end (just don’t know when) and we can get back to our lives as we know it. Stay safe! xx

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – March 2020 – Little Pieces Of Me

    • Thank you. I think the words will come when we emerge from this situation and have to begin trying to understand the new normal that we’ll all be living.
      I hope it will still include community activities, and suspect that in fact we will value each other a lot more than in the recent past.


  11. I too have been having trouble wrapping my head around a blog summary of this month … although I’m not quite up to 4 iterations just yet 😉

    You made a great observation. It really was like having 2 months baked into one. The second half was so different compared to the life-as-usual we enjoyed in the first half. Things that were once very important in my mind no longer get any thought at all.

    I’ll make one more attempt to get bizarre month documented.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – March 2020 – Reflections of An Untidy Mind

  13. Su
    I LOVE Kakabeak and Kowhai, having had both in our garden growing up. I also love and applaud your re-forestation efforts. Well done!!!

    Twenty years ago we took my Mother-in-Law to NZ and in parts of the South Island we saw gorse in bloom. MiL was delighted by the flowers and was horrified when during a photograph and car sickness stop, I started pulling out the plants and leaving them on the side of the road to die.

    She didn’t really agree when I told her that each gorse plant that doesn’t get to spread seed, is a win for NZ native plants who are being choked out by this noxious weed. Sadly she couldn’t see it, she just said “I was destroying these beautiful yellow flowers”. She is no longer with us… so I can confess that I was up early every morning (I was pregnant with Kiwi Daughter and had terrible morning sickness so couldn’t look at breakfast), and if I saw gorse around any of our motels, accommodations, (often during a fresh air walk around the car parks) I would do as much weeding as I could manage!

    Your plants are beautiful!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe. You are a conservation hero!!!!
      I do much the same thing with the invasive species I find. We have several community groups that have been adopting the little parks and reserves nearby to clear them of weeds and predators. Sadly, all of that work is on hold for the duration of the rahui.


  14. Pingback: THE CHANGING SEASONS MARCH 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

  15. Su, it was to see the community having so much fun, and the zoo photos were just wonderful. It looks like a very good set up. I think I would rather be with the monkeys at the moment. That red-tailed black cockatoo is divine. They don’t live in my part of the world. The yellow-tailed black cockatoos have been visiting lately. Such amazing birds.
    I hope you get some time out in April from the shopping and the sheer exhaustion that is involved. Take very good care. I know you will.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you Tracy. We are lucky to live somewhere that has some nice walking tracks and parks (albeit fairly crowded ones these days). With those plus my garden, I have no excuse to stay cooped up.
      We have some resident tui in our manuka trees and they provide lots of entertainment. I saw a kereru yesteday too, so I may have to take up silent residence outside the Big T’s office to try and capture some photos of it.
      How are you doing? Sending aroha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aroha, Su. I’m going well. Truly. We now have quite a quantity of food in the house so the lads have full tummies and this has improved their mood considerably. There is a lot of guilt that goes with that, but I’m doing away with the self-flagellation for a few days. I’ve taken to sitting on the front steps with my camera and my coffee. The birds are so entertaining. The grass is green. Life is good. I fully support your plan to try to capture (on film) the lovely kereru. If it proves very shy, chances are that you will see something else equally delightful and you can send a photo to your son too. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry to see this comment so late Tracy. I hope you and the whanau are still well.
          I understand the food guilt. Here people have been “beneficiary bashing”, complaining about people making repeated trips to the supermarket for food, cruelly unaware that for many the idea of “stocking up” is just a dream. So many Kiwis live totally hand to mouth and this is so hard on them.
          But the grass is green here too, and although I haven’t seen another kereru, there are tui singing in the tree outside my office. Now all I need is coffee.
          Nga Mihi nui

          Liked by 1 person

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  18. The animals and other pictures of life as it was provide just the tonic for jaded spirits all over this virus infest planet. Thank you Su …. I know things are highly discombobulated but you are managing to produce wonderful, thoughtful and uplifting work nonetheless 💫

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post Su and I thought you handled the current crisis well. I have shyed away from doing so and am trying to keep my head in the sand as much as possible. We did venture to the pharmacist last night and had to line up outside in the freezing wind to be called in one at a time – it is too small for customers to distance inside.
    I love all your photos but have a soft spot for bearded dragons! Nice to see those seedlings too – I must google about them. You already know I have some Clianthus puniceus seedlings but don’t know maximus.

    Stay safe!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Darren.
      Our local pharmacy has the same policy, but at least here it is still warm outside. I’m really impressed by how well business have adapted and full of admiration for the people working in them. I haven’t seen any horrible customer behaviour, but I’ve heard about it. Dickheads!
      Clianthus maximus is the species that’s been cultivated here, so it’s quite common in gardens, parks, etc. Both species are critically endangered in the wild sadly.


      • Plenty dickhead behaviour here, sadly. Thankfully we are not directly exposed to it but we do hear stories.
        Lovely video Susan showed me this morning from her home town though – little lad has his birthday whilst stuck indoors so the local cops went round and sang happy birthday to him via a loud hailer from the front street.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That is so lovely. I am impressed by what some adults are doing to help kids get through this. We’re seeing chalked hopscotch patterns on the pavements, and a national “bear hunt” with people putting teddy bears in their windows for kids to spot. The PM has suggested people put drawings of Easter eggs in their windows too this weekend for an Easter Egg hunt. I love how in a press conference she managed with a totally straight face to say that the Easter Bunny is an essential worker and not subject to the rahui.


  20. Even though you struggled writing this post it is a beautiful one, Su! Love all the photos – the raft race looks like a lot of fun, your growing seedlings are so uplifting to watch and the animals and your photos of them are wonderful! I think I’ve fallen in love with that spider monkey – they’re such special animals. The black cockatoo is amazing – wasn’t there one in ‘Rio’ impersonated by Robert De Niro? Loved it. 😆
    The bearded dragons are so beautiful too! Oh, how I miss going to the zoo but seeing your pics helped a lot. Thank you!! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • thank you so much my friend. I was inspired by your zoo visits, and when I learned that our zoo was having open-late evenings, I really wanted to go. I’m glad we didn’t leave it for another week!
      I read yesterday that although the zoo is closed, the orangutans have been released into their new area after three years away.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thinking about when my last visit to a zoo was, it must have been December 2014 in Sydney. I like that zoo as much for the views as for the animals. As you say, they are much better places now than in the past. I loathe seeing polar bears (or any bear) pacing sadly back and forth. Nice to still have tomatoes – those ones look like pretty dangling pearl-drop earrings. Great range of colours!
    Stay safe – one more day closer to the end of our Rahui.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never been to the zoo in Sydney, though I know where it is and I can imagine the views are really spectacular.
      Auckland used to have a polar bear whose fur had turned greenish. Watching it pacing in a concrete enclosure in blazing Auckland heat was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.
      Those tomatoes are feral; a seedling that popped up and that I decided to leave. There isn’t much fruit on it, but they are delicious.
      Hope you are safe and well.


  22. Wishing you well from the other side of the world, Su. I hope you were all standing six feet apart at the grocery store. Now our CDC is telling us to wear masks whereas a month ago they said they were not helpful So confusing.

    Stay safe and healthy, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Amy. We are well and certainly within my neighbourhood, people seem to be taking the restrictions seriously. One of the supermarkets was incredibly organised and really onto managing numbers in the store, distancing and providing sanitizer, etc. Another was a bit shambolic, so I won’t be going back there!
      NZ is still in an early stage with very low numbers of infections. The positive is that we may be able to manage the demand for medical care and supplies more effectively; the negative is that some people still seem to think it isn’t serious or won’t happen to them.
      Every day I am trying to maintain contact with family and friends, especially those overseas, and one of the nicest things to come out of this whole madness is reconnecting with people I’ve been “too busy” to make enough effort with in the past. I hope that one of the lasting effects of Covid 19 is the reawakening of our appreciation for friendships and connection.
      Thinking of you and your whanau and hoping that you are safe and well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Su—same here. Lots of reconnecting and more frequent connecting. One positive aspect of this. So far we are lucky—no one we love or even know has died from the virus. Or even gotten it. But we know that it’s only a matter of time. Be careful, and stay home. xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I loved your pictures. At the same time, my heart breaks for the millions of animals kept in cages and pet shops all over the world, whose life has now gone from bad to horrible 😦 I dread to think what’s happening to them…

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. Pingback: The Changing Seasons ~ March 2020 – Tish Farrell

  26. Despite the difficulties you’ve given us a very fine ‘changing seasons’, Su. Love the zoo gallery especially.
    You’ve also made me see how fortunate we are here in Wenlock. There’s not really been any problem over buying food, queuing-wise. And our main food producers are delivering as we have many elderly people in the town. Our longest wait was trying to pick up a prescription for a neighbour who has been told not to go out. I feel so sorry for people with chronic illnesses whose care routines have been curtailed or even halted, and for those who are awaiting operations for life-threatening conditions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Tish. I also feel very fortunate. Even the supermarket queue was pleasant and well-managed — and I left with a trolley full of food for two households.
      My dad no longer has daily care visits, and the burden has fallen on my step-mother which is worrying. But they are both cheerful and have good neighbours who keep an eye on them. The outpourings of kindness are a joy; shame it has taken such terrible circumstances for them to emerge.

      Liked by 1 person

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  28. I like that word, rahui – it is such an important shift in perspective: a protection measure as opposed to a punitive one. Our term in Singapore is Circuit Breaker – and it begins today, for a month.

    For my family, we have been on limited outings & no social gatherings since early February. I am a homebody, so it’s ok. My home is set up for homeschooling so we didn’t have to do much to prepare. But for my parents who are world-travellers, they are feeling the ache of being homebound. And with family scattered across the globe, it is a challenge to stay positive on some days.

    Thank you for a post filled with loveliness & beauty, despite the reality of long queues & anxiety. I am so glad for visits with you where your openness in sharing glimpses into your month encourages hope in the face of struggle. Sending you a big hug: keep safe & well!

    Liked by 1 person

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