Some thoughts on atmospheric conditions, focus and the illusion of islolation

Hints of the changing season. Black and white, close up shot of raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

All it takes is a change of focus to see what lies beyond us. Raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I woke this morning to find the world beyond my street has disappeared.

A mist has rolled across the harbour and made an island of this, slightly elevated, piece of land I call home. Beyond the neighbours’ roofs, a stand of macrocarpa trees fades softly into a flat, grey void.

The still air carries the sound of motorway traffic in the distance, but like shapes in the mist, the sound is muffled and indistinct — a mere hint of life beyond this temporary island.

For this time I am alone; the drivers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists either still at home or invisible to me.

For this time I can enjoy the quiet and solitude, the safety and peace, of my island. Soon it will be gone; evaporated by the climbing sun. Once again I will be part of a bigger, messier, noisier whole.

I can’t ponder this without thinking of John Donne, and THAT poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

MEDITATION XVII
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

I imagine all over the world right now, good people are reading and quoting this rebuke of isolationism, even as the sound of guns being cocked and drawbridges being pulled up echo through the mist.

For those of us who have a safe place — a home, a friendly neighbourhood, a peaceful country — it is tempting to build a fence, patrol the boundaries, create rules for entry. It is tempting to hold on to what we have and create a mist to obscure that which is beyond.

It is tempting to zoom in and focus on what is near. But however blurred by our lens, there is always a background in shot which must share our attention too.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: macro

YOu can never have too many flowers. Double-exposure shot flowers in colour and black & white. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Flowers as symbols of hope, and of loss. Double exposure image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

In my largely ever-green part of the world, autumn is not denoted by an increase in colour, but a gradual sense of its loss.

Sandwiched between tropical cyclones Debbie and Cook, New Zealand is experiencing a few days of sunshine. For the people of Edgecumbe in the Bay of Plenty these days are being spent salvaging what they can from their homes after the Rangitaiki River burst its banks last week and flooded the town, and preparing for the terrible possibility that the temporary repairs won’t hold in the coming storm.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

A shared moment of joy

Rangitoto sunrise. Seen from Milford Beach, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Rangitoto sunrise. Seen from Milford Beach, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Awake particularly early the other day,  I went for a walk on Milford Beach. The skies were low and threatening, and I’d resigned myself to a undistinguished sunrise. In fact, I was headed back to the car when a fellow walker pointed out what I nearly missed —  shafts of orange light bursting outward from the horizon.

My photo can never do justice to how beautiful that moment was. The beach was almost deserted, but for the few minutes nature offered her light show, a small group of us stood together and watched.

Then the elderly Chinese woman murmured “very special moment”, we all smiled, added our agreement and carried on our way.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally

 

 

A bit heavy on the metaphor?

Photomontage of seascape and venetian blinds. Images and montage: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Fused.

Photomontage Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Fused.

No, I’m not the neighbour who peers out at the street through venetian blinds — not literally anyway.

But I’ve been thinking about my engagement with the natural world and how it’s changed over the years.

There was a time when “nature” was something I drove through on the way to “somewhere”. Nowadays, “somewhere” is more likely to be my garden or a beach than a restaurant or a mall. Even the Big T, who knows me better than anyone else, seems surprised at my willingness not just to roll up the metaphorical blinds, but take out the whole window.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Both sides, now

Storm clouds over a field of grazing cows. Seen from the roadside, State Highway 16 Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Storm clouds gathering. Seen from the roadside, State Highway 16 Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

You know that thing, where you’re traveling along and in one direction the weather is all clear blue skies, but on the other it looks like a storm coming?

The Big T and I found that driving back from Atiu Creek at the weekend. Off to the west, the Kairpara Harbour was fair glistening in the sun. At the same time, huge dark clouds were lowering over the east.

Storm clouds approaching over hillside and mangroves. State Highway 16, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Storm clouds approaching. State Highway 16, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The contrast in light was breathtaking. Grass in the slightly parched fields seemed to glow golden, and foliage shimmer, against the matte chalkboard sky.

Just a few miles further south, and the clouds were behind us.

Since I’ve pinched a Joni Mitchell song title for this post, here is the song to enjoy.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. This week the theme is black and white.

Connected at the heart

Close up of blue thistle head, filling frame. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Blue thistle. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

It’s odd how the brain makes leaps when you need it to.

Fellow blogger Gallivanta at Silkannthreades, sent me this link (Community Spirit, at The Mundanity of it All)  about a community rallying around to help an elderly woman, recently widowed, prepare her house for sale. It’s a story about people engaged in everyday goodness, and I’m sure many (hopefully most) of us could tell a similar story.

Because despite the very real, very scary things that are happening in our world, everyday life for many of us is at least sprinkled with kindness. With a desire for positive, even if fleeting, connections with others.

And oddly, that’s where the blue thistle comes in. All those individual flowers separated from the others on the surface, are of course joined at the centre, and wouldn’t survive without that connection. Nor would the plant as a whole survive without the individual flowers reaching outwards.

Maybe that is something we need to remember. That no matter how much we grow out and in our own direction, we all spring from the same heart. It’s both what feeds us, and makes us meaningful.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally

Sea, sky and serenity

Two girls silhouetted against darkening sky. Sunset, Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Watching the sun setting, Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The long-predicted rain has arrived and is expected to remain across the country for a few days, so I’m glad the Big T and I spent last evening at Muriwai Beach.

It wasn’t the most spectacular sunset we’ve ever seen, but we both felt refreshed by the combination of sea air and nature’s light show (and the gannet colony — but that’s another post).

Posted to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.