On small things, big things and taking pleasure in the natural world

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On the forest floor. Image: Su Leslie 2017

On Wednesday afternoon, Aotearoa New Zealand will go into Covid 19 lock-down for four weeks.

It’s been looming for days; even as outwardly life has gone on “as normal”. Except in the supermarkets where it’s felt like Christmas Eve, albeit a Christmas where apparently toilet paper is No. 1 on everyone’s Santa list.

Part of me is relieved that the waiting is over. But even as I say that, I also feel anxiety bubbling up. Not for the Big T and myself particularly, but for other family members less well-resourced, and who are now “out of bounds” to us.

The last few days I haven’t felt much like taking photos, and if I’m largely confined to my home, I suspect I’ll run out of subject matter fairly soon.

But I do want to carry on blogging; to stay in touch with this community and because we’re all living through incredibly weird times and I think we need to document that.

The image above is one of the first I took with a macro lens. With hindsight, it’s not a particularly good photo, especially as I now know just how much detail I can capture with that lens.

But in the same way as it is a symbol of my photographic innocence, it also belongs to a more innocent time. The shot was taken in the Waitakere Ranges Park, Auckland. Since then, all of the forested area of the park has been closed to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback — a fungal disease that destroys one of New Zealand’s largest-growing, longest-living and most awesomely beautiful tree species — the Kauri (Agathis australis). The fungus is spread mainly humans and our pets. Virtually every forest area containing kauri trees is either closed to visitors or has a disinfecting station at the entrance.

Ironically, keeping humans contained may give kauri trees their best shot at survival (though four weeks won’t be long enough).

I’m always drawn to small plants and new growth. They make me hopeful, and I think we all need to focus on whatever give us hope.

Macro Monday

“Improve eyesight, clear the head and encourage cheerfulness”

Marigold, Calendula officinalis. Image: Su Leslie 2020


The powers of calendula, according to Macer Floridus De Viribus Herbarum, a Medieval poem, in Latin, was written in hexameter extolling the healing properties of seventy seven healing plants.

The author is thought to be Odo de Meung (Odo Magdunensis), a French physician from Meung on the Loire who lived during the first half of the 11th century.

From virtues and pleasures of herbs through history

Macro Monday