DP Photo Challenge: Anticipation, take 2

Wrapped Christmas presents. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Christmas and anticipation seem to go together.

And I don’t mean the anticipation of boundless joy and togetherness portrayed in popular culture’s ubiquitous imagery of shiny children beaming over shiny gifts, or huge happy families gathered around tables laden with food.

I’m thinking instead of how that imagery, which equates Christmas joy with rampant spending and over-consumption, also serves to heighten — for many of us — the anticipation of loneliness, isolation, inadequacy, fear.

In Auckland (and many other places), people are queuing all night outside the City Mission in the hope of a food parcel and perhaps a donated gift for their children. (Stuff, Dec 16 2016)

Police and Women’s Refuge say that incidents of family violence will rise over the Christmas period, and that only a small proportion will actually be reported (NZ Herald, 10 Dec 2016).

Those who have extended family can turn to newspapers and websites for advice on “how to survive the family Christmas” (Stuff, Dec 10 2016) — some consolation perhaps for  those already struggling with loneliness and social isolation.

In my little family, we have developed and evolved our own Christmas rituals and coping strategies. Yet I still feel anxiety that as the principal architect of our family’s social structure, I will somehow get it wrong and engender disappointment rather than joy.

And as much as I want to create something special for those I love, I am eagerly anticipating Boxing Day, when I can just relax and read my book.

This is a contribution to the Daily Post Photo Challenge. The theme this week is anticipation.


DP Photo Challenge: Anticipation, take 1

Gannet guarding an egg. Seen a few weeks ago at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Gannet guarding an egg. Seen at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, October 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

During the last couple of months, the Big T and I have made a few trips out to the Muriwai gannet colony to watch these amazing birds during their nesting season.

We’ve just made our first visit in a few weeks; anticipating the arrival of chicks. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, it seems that most probably hatched not long after our last visit.

All over the cliff-faces there are adult gannets jostling for space in their shallow nests with fast-growing off-spring. Some seem to be nearly as large as their parents, but are still covered in gorgeous white down.

Adult gannet with chick. Seen at Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Adult gannet with chick. Seen December 2016 at the Muriwai Gannet Colony, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The chicks are born bald, and develop their white down over a period of about a month. This is replaced over following weeks with distinctive, speckled, plumage. After about four months in the nest, they take off — flying to the east coast of Australia where they remain for several years before attempting the flight back to the colony to find a mate and breed. It’s estimated that even in a good year, only about 25 percent of the birds return safely to New Zealand (Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Gannets: Life History and Feeding)

This post is a contribution to the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is anticipation.