The Changing Seasons, April 2021

“The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing.” — Kenneth Grahame. Image: Su Leslie 2021

It’s a strange contradiction that while April has been my most sociable and outward-looking month in a long time, I’m remembering these thirty days mainly as a time of introspection.

The month began with a trip to the theatre. Dreading the CBD’s nightmare roadworks, T and I caught the ferry from Devonport, had a meal, strolled around the waterfront and sat down to one of the most interesting productions we’ve seen in a long time.

The Haka Party Incident was visually stunning verbatim theatre (1) that tells of a few moments in history which changed race relations in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In 1979, after enduring several decades of Auckland University Engineering students staging a highly offensive mock “haka” as a capping stunt, a group of young Maori activists confronted the engineers during a rehearsal. Punches were thrown, arrests were made, and institutional racism was laid bare.

But the engineers never again performed their “haka”.

T and I are both graduates of Auckland University (T of its Engineering School) and though the haka party incident was before our time, it is part of our collective history. To see events that we understood from the perspective of Pakeha teenagers, re-told 40-odd years later was a sobering and quite empowering experience.

An evening in the city. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Carved entrance to Te Wero Island, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Really, April has been all about a road-trip to visit my father and attend a workshop on eco-printing/dye on fabric. I love solo travel, and having seven days to visit people and places I love — and learn a new skill — was absolute bliss.

I’ll write a separate post on what I learned in the workshop, but here a few shots of my efforts on the day

Laying out the plant material to be “printed”. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Bundled, “cooked” and then unrolled to reveal what’s been imprinted. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Hanging the results out to dry. Image; Su Leslie 2021

Looking back on the photos I shot while away pretty much confirms my obsession with desolate landscapes, lowering skies, quirky buildings and food.

Celeriac soup at The Kirk, Hamilton, NZ. Delicious! Image: Su Leslie 2021

Homemade preserves for sale at The Creel Lodge Cafe, Turangi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Carrot cake and a flat white. The Black Stump Cafe, Pahiatua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

You know you’re in the country when … Reading material at The Black Stump Cafe, Pahiatua. Image: Su Leslie 2021

“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.” — Socrates. Seen in Whanganui, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Love the name! Probably just as well they were closed. Whanganui, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

A great Arts’ Centre, and ‘Ghost of the Huia’, sculpture by Paul Dibble. The Square, Palmerston North, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

What were they thinking? Brutalism in The Square, Palmerston North, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Tui Brewery, Pahiatua, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Pohuturoa; volcanic rhyolite plug. Waikato, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Because … why not? Replica Dutch windmill in Foxton, NZ. Opened in 2003. Image: Su Leslie 2021

It didn’t seem as run down when I stayed here in 1980. Gretna Hotel, Taihape, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2021


(1) Verbatim theatre “uses pre-existing documentary material as source material for stories about real events and people, frequently without altering the text in performance.”


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement.

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish from Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Natalie from Little Pieces of Me

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Ju-Lyn at Touring my Backyard

Brian from Bushboy’s World

Out of the Cave joins us this month

The Changing Seasons, March 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

Douglas Adams

Well, that pretty well sums up my month.

Ok, so that’s not quite true. It’s more that my days seem to contain fewer moments I want to photograph. That’s partly about the rhythm of my life, and partly that I’m increasingly focused on photography as an expression of creativity, rather than a place-holder for memory.

In other words, I still want to record the fact that my scarlet runner beans are growing, but damn it, I want the shot to look pretty!

New shoots; scarlet runner beans. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson

So perhaps my month has been less a Douglas Adam’s quote than a Robert Louis Stevenson one.

Almost literally.

With the temperatures dropping a little and a bit more moisture in the air, I’ve been spending more time in the garden, and it seems to be springing back to life (ironic, given that it’s autumn here).

Flower buds are appearing; beans are offering us a second crop; figs and feijoas are ripening — and we have so many chillies I’m in serious need of some new recipes (or more freezer space).

Poblano chilli. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Scarlet runner beans. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Feijoas. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Feijoas. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Fig. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Just picked. Image; Su Leslie 2021

Chrysanthemum buds. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Hibiscus. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Cosmos bud. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Chrysanthemum buds. Image: Su Leslie 2021

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement. (1)

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Ju-Lyn from Touring my Backyard

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tish from Writer on the Edge

Margaret at Pyrenees to Pennines

Marilyn from Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Ladyleemanila

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Joanne at Following a Bold Plan

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

The Changing Seasons, February 2021

Image: Su Leslie 2021

“Try to represent … the notion of time without the processes by which we divide it, measure it, or express it … We cannot conceive of time except by distinguishing its different moments.” — Emile Durkheim, French sociologist

I quote Durkheim here because I’m struggling with the experience of time right now. In the seemingly relentless cycle of hot dry days and humid nights, time is hardly more than arbitrary changes in the calendar date on my phone, and a slowly increasing number of images in the folder labelled February.

Those images tell me that I’ve baked quite a lot, visited a couple of cemeteries to research Headstones and Hidden Histories posts, and enjoyed a couple of spectacular sunsets.

Coconut cookies. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Raw caramel slice. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Scottish oatcakes; recipe here. Image: Su Leslie 2021

After a bit of experimentation, I have an oatcake recipe I’m happy with. I’m posting it separately here, so if you do want to try it, you won’t have to wade through my ramblings first (one of my pet hates with online recipes).

I’ve been meaning to write about Ellen Melville for a while. She was one of the country’s first woman lawyers, a city councillor for many years and a powerful advocate for women’s participation in public life. I’m still doing research to add colour to her story, but will post it as a Hidden History when I’m done.

A story to be told. Image: Su Leslie 2021

The stories of Freda Stark and Thelma Trott could hardly be more different to that of Ellen Melville — but are totally fascinating. This post may take me longer, as there seems to be a resurgence of interest in Freda Stark, and I’m determined not to just re-hash old material.

As a clue to how interested I’ve become — T and I made a 200km round trip last Saturday to see a play called Freda Stark — The Musical.

I hate musicals.

And to be honest, I hated this one more than most — but that’s another story to be told.

A story to be told. Image: Su Leslie 2021

Freda Stark — The Musical may have been disappointing, but we had a really good lunch at Saigon Noon in Hamilton.

Ok, not as interesting as our food, but when it arrived I was too busy eating to take photos. Image; Su Leslie 2021

And a stop at Mercer on the way home offered a beautiful sunset.

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

The following evening, a walk on Auckland’s Tamaki Drive produced a similarly spectacular sunset.

Auckland CBD from Tamaki Drive, Orakei. Image: Su Leslie

And a little later … Auckland CBD from Tamaki Drive, Orakei. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, from Okahu Bay Wharf. Image: Su Leslie

Sunset, Okahu Bay Wharf, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement. (1)

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tracy from Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Suzanne from Life at No 22

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Marilyn from Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

XingfuMama

Ju-Lyn (who you’ll know from All Things Bright and Beautiful) has a new blog, and shares her month here, at Touring My Backyard

Tish from Writer on the Edge

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Sarah at Art Expedition

The Changing Seasons, December 2020

Metaphorical, as well as literal sunset. Napier, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Well, 2020 eh! What can I say?

In my January Changing Seasons post I wrote:

… 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.

I’m thinking again about goals for the year ahead, and realise that they are much the same. But the world has become more troubled, and I’ll have to work harder at proactive hopefulness.

To help me (and because it seems I’ve taken very few good photos this month), I’m going to revisit the changing seasons of 2020 through some of the images that gave me hope, or pleasure, or pause to think.

January

An invitation to tea. Image Su Leslie 2019

The first virtual afternoon tea. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Not so much the image as the monthly event that began with this piece of plum cake. It seemed to strike a chord and many of us have enjoyed sharing virutal kai and korero during the year.

February

Girl in a field. Cornwall Park, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2020

In February, this image spoke to me only of the drought then (and still) afflicting my city. Within weeks, the large out-of-shot wedding of which the girl was a part would been impossible as the country went into Covid-fighting lock-down.

March

Sometimes, you just need yellow flowers. Image: Su Leslie 2020

A long weekend in Christchurch allowed us to reconnect with whanau and celebrate the emergence of a new city from the devastation of the 2010-2011 earthquakes. A walk in the botanic gardens produced this shot, a reminder of how much beauty can be found in nature, if we choose to see it.

April

Lucas Creek at Greenhithe Wharf. Feeling lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Image: Su Leslie 2020

During the five weeks of Covid-19 lockdown, we rediscovered our neighbourhood through daily walks. Even after 20 years here, I never tire of this view of the Upper Waitemata from our local wharf.

May

Experiments in PhotoShop. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Inspired by other bloggers creating clever and beautiful images in PhotoShop, I spent an afternoon learning to use some new editing tools. This is definitely the best of my experiments.

June

Turning homegrown fruit into marmalade. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Our citrus trees provided a bumper harvest year — with the orange (planted by mistake I think) producing more fruit than we could eat or give away. I am grateful for this harvest and for land on which to grow food.

July

Waikato sunrise at Mercer, NZ. Image; Su Leslie 2020

As Auckland traffic has become more and more horrendous, very early starts are the most sanity-preserving option for road-trips south. In winter, this has the added bonus of arriving at Mercer in time to watch the sunrise from the banks of the Waikato River. No matter how often I stop here, the view still fills me with joy.

August

Tui in a cherry tree. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I never tire of watching our native birds, and celebrate the fact that tui seem to be returning to our neighbourhood in greater numbers every year.

September

Tākapu (Australasian gannet), Muriwai colony, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Wildlife photography is not my super-power, but occasionally I take a shot I really love. Finding gannets not in motion is difficult; finding a pair not completely surrounded by others was the real challenge.

October

Aotearoa New Zealand voted to give the Labour Government a second term.

Although already demonstrating feet of clay on some really important issues, the Labour government we elected with a resounding majority proved at least that New Zealanders will choose inclusion over divisiveness, and kindness over bullying and intimidation.

November

First pohutukawa blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The arrival of pohutukawa flowers is a sure sign summer is approaching.

December

Christmas window, coffee shop Hawera, NZ. Image; Su Leslie 2020

A very wet day in Hawera, and I had to stop and admire these very clever Christmas decorations. I’m sure they made others smile too, and I can only hope that the cups were bio-degradable.

Image; Su Leslie 2020

As I write this, the most difficult year many of have experienced is almost over. It would be lovely to think that we can draw a line under 2020 and move on. But the reality is that tomorrow will almost certainly be as difficult and dangerous and stressful as today.

So I’ll raise my glass simply to a new day. I hope that for all of us it is only one of many, and that in each of those days we find purpose and joy.

Aroha nui


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement. (1)

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Margaret, at From Pyrenees to Pennines joins us this month

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ladyleemanila

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Sarah at Art Expedition

Gil at Talking Thailand


(1) If you find you have more than 20 or so photos, you’ve either had a pretty exciting month, or should consider not showing them all. Similarly, if you’ve recently posted images on your blog, it’s probably not a good idea to use them again unless they help to tell your story. 

The Changing Seasons, November 2020

Raglan Harbour, Waikato, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. — Douglas Adams

You know when you have a great idea, and it seems quite straightforward.

So you invest a bit of time. Then it starts to get complicated, and there’s a deadline.

But damn, it’s a great idea and you’re not going to be beaten or back down.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the idea was simple. With Covid and whatnot, it’s been a very virtual year, and I thought it would be nice to post people actual Christmas cards (with hand-written messages), instead of just sending emails or texts, or trying to remember my FaceBook password.

And because I’m quite arty, I thought I’d make the Christmas cards.

But since I didn’t fancy doing 20 or so watercolours, and my lino-cuts were a fail last year, I thought I’d take some nice photos and get them printed onto cards.

And then, because I love food, I thought the photos should be of Christmas goodies. Which of course I’d have to bake.

You see where I’m going with this?

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. — Douglas Adams

Plan B 1/2 — the baking left a bit to be desired. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Suffice to say, I’ve learned a lot about cookie-making, royal icing and bokeh.

But. I barely managed to post my overseas cards before the van arrived to empty the box on the last day NZ Post claims they will deliver them by Christmas (and no, I’m not holding my breath).

And. I am rather pleased with them.

I would show you, but as I don’t know your postal addresses, I’ll almost certainly end up using the images here anyway, by way of a Merry Christmas to you all.

So from where I’m sitting now, my November has been one long baking, icing and photographic session.

But the month started with a short trip to the Waikato, during which I did no baking or icing and very little food photography, unless you count shots of food trucks at Gourmet in the Gardens, at Hamilton Gardens.

This is a weekly event, run every Sunday night over summer, and it was fabulous. The Rhododendron Lawn becomes a vast picnic area, ringed by food trucks serving some really nice food.

I chatted to one of the organisers and was really impressed by how carefully thought-out the whole event is. They even bring in a caravan containing a couple of dishwashers, so that all of the cutlery and crockery can be reused. Apparently the forks and knives came from cleaning out practically every thrift shop in Hamilton.

We spent the night in Hamilton, and drove home via Raglan (only a short detour), which became a longer detour as we explored the Te Akau area on the north side of Raglan Harbour.

One road in, one road out. Thirty or so kilometres of gravel road through some really pretty countryside, and a wharf at the end with some very cool rock formations.

I don’t know if our trip counts as supporting the local tourist industry, but it did confirm that we probably won’t be buying land at Te Akau — unless we also bought a boat that would get us across the harbour to Raglan (about a 10 minute trip).

That’s unlikely, as neither T nor I are natural sailors.

Rock formations, Te Akau Wharf, Waikato. In the background, Raglan. Ten minutes by boat; 90 minutes by road. Image; Su Leslie 2020

The Changing Seasons, contributor’s guidelines

In the last couple of Changing Seasons posts, I’ve talked about the guidelines for this project and sought feedback on them.

Based on this, and my own thoughts I’m suggesting the following — only slightly amended from the Cardinal’s original — guidelines.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly blogging project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

Or you might like to share a recipe or instructions for something you’ve made — or just show us what you’ve done.

Post length and photo numbers

There are no fixed rules around this; just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement.

If you find you have more than 20 or so photos, you’ve either had a pretty exciting month, or should consider not showing them all.

Similarly, if you’ve already posted an image on your blog, it’s probably not a good idea to use it again — unless it really helps to tell your story. 

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Xingfumama

Natalie the Explorer

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful

Pauline from Living in Paradise

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Sarah at Art Expedition

The Changing Seasons, October 2020

Work in progress; a metaphor for life. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Mulch.

If October could be summed up in one word, that word would be mulch.

It’s been a good month for gardening with lots of warm, still days, so the Big T and I have been super-busy making new borders and raised beds, sewing seeds, weeding, planting and transplanting — you know the drill.

Early on we took possession of a mulch mountain and have gradually eroded it to barely a hillock. 

And while the garden now looks significantly different, it’s really not photogenic. But with luck (and a bit of rain), by November’s Changing Seasons, I’ll have something to show you that looks more interesting than relocated piles of mulch.

In the meantime …

Garden success #1: transplanted lemon verbena thriving. Image: Su Leslie 2020
Garden success #2; kaka beak (Clianthus maximus) grown from seed. Image: Su Leslie 2020
Garden success #3; experimental wicking garden. Beetroot almost ready to harvest. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Apart from gardening, I don’t feel as though I’ve done mulch at all in October (see what I did there).

NZ’s general election seemed to split the month in two, and it’s only with hindsight I realise how anxious I was about the outcome. In the end, the Labour Party made history by being the first under our proportional representation system able to govern outright. While this does mean the government can’t blame inaction on conservative coalition partners, it also means that the Green Party, despite an increased number of MPs, won’t necessarily have a place in government. And NZ’s woeful record on addressing climate change and basic issues of social justice will probably remain woeful.

But in the spirit of accepting personal responsibility for our part in the climate disaster, T and I abandoned the car and took a ferry into central Auckland on a recent visit to the art gallery.

I continue to play with art materials; more for the joy of experimenting than with any particular result in mind. Alcohol inks and air-dry clay are my current favourites.

About the Changing Seasons

In last month’s Changing Seasons post I asked for feedback about the guidelines for posting, which have been unchanged since this challenge was established by Cardinal Guzman in 2015.

Thanks for all your comments.

The general feeling seems to be that we’re mostly happy that the structure allows us to share our reflections on the month in whatever way suits us, and the guidelines are mainly for anyone new to The Changing Seasons.

The things that were mentioned were the limit on photo numbers and the requirement to only use new images. Most people who mentioned the shot limit agreed it was a good idea (though we all admitted to exceeding it).

I am aware that most of us follow a very large number of blogs and do so actively — engaging with the content beyond simply hitting the “like” button. My own view is that having people read my blog is a privilege I must continue to earn by doing my best to be interesting, and respecting the value of your time and engagement. For me that means editing the text (and then editing it again) and trying to only use images that help tell the story.

As for the requirement to use new images; I’ve always seen that as a request not to bore readers by recycling shots they have already seen.

I had planned to include draft text of some updated guidelines here, but as I’ve already written more than usual, I’ll do that in a separate post.

Until then, feel free to add comments to my musings, and of course link to this post in your own so that I can update accordingly.

Update

Tracy from Reflections of An Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Ladyleemanila

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Sarah at Art Expedition

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Pauline from Living in Paradise

Natalie from Natalie the Explorer

Lani from Life, the Universe and Lani

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Gil at Talking Thailand

The Changing Seasons, September 2020

Fallen kowhai blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2020

After a dry and quite mild winter, September has turned very cold, very wet, and very, very windy.

Instead of sitting on the deck, camera in hand, poised to capture shots of tui and kereru gorging on the newly arrived kowhai blossom, I’m sitting indoors (wearing Ugg boots) watching the beautiful yellow kowhai flowers blow around the lawn.

I’m sad not so much for the missed photo opportunity but for the loss of an important food for our native birds.

September has been THAT kind of month.

Between the weather, the pandemic, a surgery that doesn’t seem to have made anything better (though at least not obviously worse), and a general low-level exhaustion — if I weren’t hosting this challenge I’d be wondering whether I should even participate.

Indeed if it weren’t for a trip to the Muriwai tākapu (gannet) colony last weekend, I doubt I’d have a post.

But if anything speaks of the changing seasons, it is migratory birds.

When I visited Muriwai in mid-August, almost no gannets had returned to the colony from their wintering in Australia. By last weekend, all of the main breeding sites were densely occupied; nest-building was clearly visible, and I suspect that many of the birds may already be incubating eggs.

Having spent the winter discussing the building of new raised beds and garden areas, T and I had planned to spend some serious time on the various projects this month. We’ve made progress, but until the wild weather passes, we won’t be able to finish building and actually plant anything.

In the meantime, the blue borage and calendula are growing like mad, and my motley collection of pelargonium cuttings have all taken and are waiting to be planted out.

About the Changing Seasons

When I took over hosting The Changing Seasons from Max at Cardinal Guzman, I carried on using the format that Max had developed.

Over the years though, I think that we’ve all evolved different ways of approaching the challenge and for some, the original guidelines may seem prescriptive or even off-putting.

My own view is that The Changing Seasons is simply an opportunity to reflect on the month that has passed, and to share those reflections in whatever way feels appropriate. For some bloggers, it’s a framework to record and reflect on particular interests and projects — like a garden. For others, every month is different, and so there is no set way of approaching it.

I think we do need guidelines, especially for those who are new to the project. But do those we have still work? I’m interested in your views.

In the meantime, here is Max’s original statement.

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.

One thing that won’t change though. Include a ping-back to this post, and I’ll update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Ladyleemanila

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Lani from Life, the Universe and Lani

Xingful Mama

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Sarah at Art Expedition

Brian at Bushboy’s World

A Wonderful Sheep

Joining us this month is the Textile Ranger from Little Wild Streak. Pop over to her post and say hi.

The Changing Seasons, August 2020

dance me to the end of love Art play. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Well, August. A month of two halves.

It started well enough; a visit to the hairdresser, dinner with the boy-child and his partner at a new restaurant, preparing to host a dinner party — even checking flights and accommodation for a trip to Christchurch.

Then Covid-19 re-emerged in the community and Auckland returned to Level 3 lock-down for 19 days, ending last night. Today we begin a period in Level 2.5, and wait to see what will  happen next.

Confinement to barracks meant I had no excuse not to embrace my “Arty August” project. If I’d been hoping for 31 finished pieces of work, I would have been disappointed. Luckily my goals were more about process than product and I’m happy. I’ve played a lot with watercolours — trying to understand washes and blending; experimented with some air-dry clay that’s been in the art box for a while, and transformed a pair of thrift-shoes into a … 3D collage?

Embracing process doesn’t come naturally to me; I am very goal-oriented and naturally tend to become incredibly frustrated when my output doesn’t match my vision.

A few years ago my friend Claire — who is both a talented artist and a very good teacher — said something that stuck with me and helps me find value in everything I make, even when it’s simply marks on paper. She suggested that in each piece of work there is something good; maybe just a tiny part of a sketch that really works, or a blob of colour that’s pleasing. The trick is to find that one thing and enjoy it, celebrate it, and use it to move forward. In the last month I’ve covered lots of sheets of watercolour paper with blobs of colour. None screams out to me as the basis for a work in itself, but together, they suggest materials for a collage.

And if that’s good enough for Eric Carle in The Very Hungry Caterpillar –it’s definitely good enough for me.

As always, when I’m at home a lot, I cook a lot.

I am finding more and more that I want to eat a largely plant-based diet, and mushrooms are not only a favourite food, but work really well to provide the texture and depth of flavour found in meat dishes. I also love miso and am experimenting with making a miso glaze/sauce for mushrooms. The first attempt was pretty good, but needs tweaking.

And continuing my obsession with scones; I went right back to basics with a recipe from Maw Broon’s Cookbook. If you’re not familiar with Maw Broon (i.e. if you’re not Scots), she is the matriarch of a comic strip called The Broons which has appeared in the Scottish newspaper The Sunday Post, since March 1936.

Maw Broon’s Cookbook contains recipes that have formed the basis of Scottish cooking for generations. Many were handed down from mother to daughter, and on again.

I was interested in the recipe for Puff Scones because it uses buttermilk, and because it calls for plain flour, baking soda and cream of tartar — instead of the more usual self-raising flour. I’m not sure if it was the combination of ingredients, or the fact of adding the acid and alkaline raising agents as separate entities, but the scones were amazing. Seriously; they were the lightest, fluffiest scones I’ve ever made (and I’d thrown in some cheese which often makes them more dense).

They have the Big T’s approval, so now I have to try Maw Broon’s treacle scones … and maybe a wee Dundee cake.

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.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to find out how July played out for them:

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Joining us this month is Ann-Christine, or Leya, who many of you will know as a host of the great weekly Lens-Artists challenge.

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

A Wonderful Sheep

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Joining us this month is the Little Wild Streak

The Changing Seasons: July 2020

img_0197

“By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear.” — George Herbert. Early morning, Waikato River at Mercer, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I consider it a success in life that I can accept (if not entirely understand) the ebb and flow of my emotional state. I’ve learned to recognise when I’m struggling, and not to make the bad times worse by beating myself up about having a bad time.

I’ve also learned that eventually (so far) I will find something — however small — that triggers joy and that a little turn of the screw in the right direction can re-set the machine and get the cogs moving again.

July, it has to be said, has been a month largely lacking in cog action.

A short road-trip (in lieu of visiting my dad) provided an opportunity to read, think and relax away from all the usual chores and responsibilities. I didn’t venture too far from home, and despite the rain and school holidays, enjoyed re-visiting Hamilton and the small towns of the Hauraki Plains. It struck me though, that even as we’re being told the country is open for business, Covid 19 has taken a huge toll on many small communities, especially in the tourist-dependent hospitality sector. Those cafes that were open at all were operating shortened hours — which led to some “interesting” ad hoc meals.

Even the wonderful Hamilton Gardens seemed straggly and bare, with several of the themed gardens closed. I know that is partly a consequence of the time of year, but suspect the vastly reduced number of visitors has provided an opportunity for low-impact maintenance and repair.

Since my return, I’ve pottered about and made a little progress on a few projects, but generally got to the end of each day and wondered where the time had gone.

As the month-end approaches, I’m feeling a sense of being able to draw a line under July and move into August with some enthusiasm. I’ve got two weeks to prepare for the first “posh” dinner I’ve hosted in years, and I suspect I’ll be testing a few practice dishes on The Big T (like he’s going to complain).

I’ve also set myself the challenge of doing one creative, just-for-fun thing every day in August (is Arty August too cheesy a title). I have a few biggish projects that can only be done in stages, but think I need to also set little goals — like a daily doodle or something similar. In announcing my intention, I’ve made myself accountable; if only to my end-of-August Changing Seasons self.

 

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.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to find out how July played out for them:

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Little Pieces of Me

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ladyleemanila

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Sarah at Art Expedition

Suzanne from Life at No 22

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

A Wonderful Sheep

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Gill at Talking Thailand

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

The Changing Seasons, May 2020

img_7241

Grounded. Dinghies at Island Bay, Auckland. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I’ve taken fewer photos this month than in any other since my days of film-camera ownership.

Basically, I haven’t been out all that much, and there are only so many photos I can take of the few remaining flowers in my garden.

Covid 19 restrictions have largely been removed in New Zealand and we are being bombarded with media messages to travel; see the country, spend whatever income we’re still earning on hotel nights and boutique pinot noir; go bungy-jumping, horse-trekking, white water rafting — whatever’s on offer in a country that has steadily replaced productive industries with tourism. Now the overseas visitors are absent, we’re practically being told that it’s our patriotic duty to replace their greenbacks, sterling and yuan with our own dollars.

Not only that, if we don’t do it NOW — the visitors will soon come back and the country’s beauty spots will once again be overcrowded and over-priced.

So far, I’ve resisted.

It’s not that I don’t want to support small businesses and their minimum wage staff. I do.

But I also want the people of this tiny, achingly beautiful country at the arse-end of the world to pause, and ask ourselves if we really want to instantly undo the little bit of good that a human lock-down has done for our environment. Do we really want to throw ourselves into budget-price camper vans and burn as much fossil fuel as possible in the time we have? Do we want to trample barely-recovered walking tracks in fragile eco-systems? Pollute the waterways? Buy stuff we don’t need and generate rubbish we can’t actually get rid of?

New Zealand is a wonderful country. We do a lot of things well, but I fear that we’re squandering the opportunity to build on our success in fighting off (at least the first wave) of a pandemic. In our rush to “rebuild” our economy, we’re wrapping ourselves in all the old assumptions and ideologies that were steadily, gradually destroying not only the natural environment, but also our society.

This is not the post I set out to write. And I suppose it’s not even particularly appropriate under “The Changing Seasons” headline.

But it’s the post I need to write; because my fear is that we’re not changing. We’re allowing ourselves to be sucked back into old ways and old thinking. We’re grounded; upturned dinghies dragged out of the water and going nowhere.

I don’t exempt myself from this. And it’s evident in the (few) photos I have taken. The subject matter, the point of view — even the editing — all reflect a sensibility that I have been holding onto for perhaps too long.

 

 

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.

Update

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Sarah at Art Expedition

Little Pieces of Me

XingfuMama

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Dawn at A Shared Space

Natalie the Explorer

Suzanne at Life at No. 22

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind