Stop growing; start dying

Turmeric leaf turning brown; time to harvest the rhizomes. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I’m paraphrasing William Burroughs (Junky, 1953) in the post title, but it’s an apt description of my garden right now. Even the fig tree, which is still producing fruit, has no green leaves, and soon will have none at all.

Still growing. Wednesday’s breakfast perhaps? Image: Su Leslie 2019

Posted to Macro Monday

The Changing Seasons: March 2019

Photo 8-03-19, 6 04 49 PM (1)

Storm clouds on the horizon. Symbolism in retrospect — taken exactly one week before the Christchurch terror attack. Big Omaha Wharf, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2019

This is the most difficult Changing Seasons post I’ve ever written.

How do I describe the way a month that could easily have passed without comment suddenly became one that no New Zealander will ever forget?

Because at 1.40pm on Friday 15th, a terrorist murdered fifty Muslim men, women and children practicing their religion in two mosques in the city of Christchurch — and changed this country for ever.

A terrorist left 48 more worshipers with serious physical injuries, and hundreds more to deal with the psychological trauma of having witnessed the carnage or dealt with its aftermath.

A terrorist shattered families, brought fear and anger to the Muslim community, defiled a city trying to rebuild itself after deadly earthquakes, and dragged these little islands out of our illusion of peace and safety.

In the two weeks since, we have seen the best and the worst of humanity. Hundreds of thousands of Kiwis have turned up at mosques and vigils and rallies to offer condolences, flowers, cards, food, music, prayer, haka, hugs, tears and above all — aroha, or love.

Our Prime Minister has behaved with sensitivity and compassion that is being admired beyond our shores.

Our government has tried to put aside politics and act decisively to make legislative changes to gun and other laws.

And the racist underbelly of our society is being exposed and scrutinised like never before. On the plus side, when people are coming forward to talk about the abuse they routinely experience in this country, they are being believed at last. On the minus, the xenophobic violence and hatred continues.

It is too early to know if this act of terrorism will (ironically for the terrorist) bring about positive change in New Zealand, or if, when the next big news story comes along, we’ll go back to “business as usual.” I hope for the best, but truthfully am not that optimistic.

So what do I have to show for March? Certainly not photos of candles and placards and grieving. Others have done that (sometimes beautifully) but for me personally, it has felt intrusive.

So here are a few shots that haven’t made it into other posts this month.

Food features heavily as usual. The Big T and I celebrated his birthday a week before the Christchurch attack with lunch at the Sawmill Brewery in Matakana. A beer tasting tray and some shared plates of delicious food — perfect. And I’m still grappling with sourdough pizza; trying to make a base that is light, crispy and easy to work. I’m not there yet, but my boys aren’t complaining.


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.

Please visit these amazing bloggers for their perspective on the month just gone:

Jude at Life at the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Suzanne, at Being in Nature joins us for the first time.

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Yvette at Priorhouse Blog

Sarah at Art Expedition

Lindsay at Squeak of a Nuthatch

Deb at The Widow Badass Blog

Joanne at My Life Lived Full


Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Gill at Talking Thailand

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful


From hand to mouth: thoughts on gardening, food poverty and giving a fig*

Straight from the tree. Close up shot of hand holding freshly picked figs. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Straight from the tree. Today’s fig harvest. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

According to contemporary sources (The Free Dictionary, Merriam WebsterThe Cambridge Dictionary), the term “living from hand to mouth” is used to suggest bare survival — getting by on the minimum.

My 25 year old copy of Brewer’s Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cassell Publishers, London, 1992), adds a moral dimension with the following:

To live from hand to mouth. Improvidently, without thought for the morrow. The phrase implies the ready consumption of whatever one gets.

I can’t find a reliable source for the phrase (suggestions welcome), but with or without the whiff of moral censure, the term is positively dripping with negative connotations.

Without diminishing the very real suffering of millions of people who are doing it tough and barely surviving in a world of increasing inequality; for a gardener, living hand to mouth can mean something positive — a celebration of the fruits of our labour.

Yet the ability to cultivate a garden is beyond the reach of many, if not most, people. Access to land, tools, seeds — even water — is limited. And those who most need that regular, if small, supply of fresh food, are those most denied it.

So as I give thanks for my handful of figs, and for the beetroot, brassicas, herbs and citrus fruit to come, I also want to acknowledge the efforts of countless individuals and organisations working across the world, in a multitude of innovative ways, to grow and/or distribute fresh food within their communities.

Here are just a few of the initiatives I am aware of in my small part of the world. If you know of such groups in your community, please tell me about them in the comments, or post a link to their websites.

Community Fruit Harvesting. Auckland-based, but increasingly working across NZ to collect surplus and unwanted produce, and distribute — either fresh or as preserves — to charities.

Garden to Table. A New Zealand-wide programme that works with schools to create gardens and teach children to grow, harvest and prepare fresh produce.

Compost Collective. Auckland initiative to reduce organic landfill waste through composting, has become involved with a number of gardening initiatives.

Kelmarna Gardens, Auckland

Wellington City Council Community Gardens

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

* For anyone who is unfamiliar with the term “to not give a fig”, The Free Dictionary defines it as to not care.

Regular Random: five minutes with the first figs of the harvest

I got back from my road-trip to find some our figs had ripened.

Lucky for me this was only a five-minute shoot — figs for breakfast.

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge) is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

The Changing Seasons: autumn on a plate

Close up shot of poached peach half and halved figs, caramelized and served with nut crumb and icecream. Image and recipe: Su Leslie, 2016

Caramelized peach and fig with hazelnut crumb and ice-cream. Recipe and image: Su Leslie, 2016

I hadn’t intended to post another recipe for Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons challenge, but this one arrived — fully formed — at precisely 3.18 this morning (I checked). As I’m not often woken by ideas this tasty, it seemed silly not to make the dish and share the photo.

Golden Queen peaches and figs are both in season here, and while I have to buy the peaches, I’m lucky enough to have a fig tree that is bearing about four fruit a day at the moment.

Golden Queen peach half and home-grown fig. Dessert in the making. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Golden Queen peach half and home-grown fig. Dessert in the making. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

I poached both the peach half and the fig halves in a syrup flavoured with stem ginger and lemon jest, then popped the peach — cut-side down — in a frying pan to caramelize it. If I were making this as a proper dessert (rather than an experiment), I would roast the peaches to soften and caramelize them in the same process.

The crumb topping was made of finely chopped hazelnuts toasted in a frying pan with a bit of butter.

The icecream was Kapiti vanilla bean.

The Big T was my (surprisingly willing) taster, pronouncing it pretty yummy. Since I asked for constructive feedback, he said the poaching syrup needed more ginger and the crumb a bit more flavour.

I’m working on MK #2 for the boy-child to try later.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. There are two versions:

 Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!