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, May 2020

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, July 2017

Staying aloft. Single crimson daisy bloom -- no stem visible -- in focus against green background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Staying aloft. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It seems that July just hasn’t been a photographic month for me. Which I think is really a way of saying I haven’t felt inclined to lift my eyes and gaze upon the world.

It’s not that I’ve totally abandoned my camera. More that I’m disappointed in both the quantity and quality of the shots I’ve taken. Knee pain has kept me from the morning walks that provide both inspiration and some inner calm, while the struggles of those I love best have occupied my consciousness and spilled over into the darker recesses of my own psyche.

My July has not been a visual feast, but I’ve reached August knowing that I have enough. Enough strength and enough sunlight and enough support to stay aloft.

Like the flower, I am attached — though neither you nor I quite see how.

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

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.

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!

The Changing Seasons: June 2017

Close up shot of fallen Liquidamber (?) leaf against black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The last leaf. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It’s mid-winter here; although some days you would be totally forgiven for believing it’s still summer.

Days that began in heavy mist have ended with us barefoot and t-shirt clad on a beach.

If there is a theme (or perhaps an obsession) in this month’s photos, it is light. Harsh light, filtered light, reflected light — or just the focus on a single object in the dark.

Close-up shot of arum lily, against black background. Image; Su Leslie, 2017

Arum lily. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

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.

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!

 

The Changing Seasons: May 2017

Still life with symbolism. Still life of squash, onion, garlic, chilli and ginger with cookbooks, clock, toy car and autumn leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Still life with symbolism. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Perhaps it because the cold has set in, but May has been a slow month; a still life heavy with abundance and oddity.

Rain and wind have turned fallen leaves to a slime covering pavements and lawns, while Antarctic air settling across the country has driven me to turn on the heating and unpack the winter duvet.

It’s time for indoor pursuits, warming food and dreams of adventure — just as soon as it’s warm again.

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

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.

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!

The changing seasons: April 2017

Water droplets hanging from bare tree branches. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Image: Su Leslie, 2017

April is usually my favourite month, and I’m still not quite sure how I managed to let it pass in such a blur. It’s not as if I’ve been madly busy, or travelling, or … well anything really.

How will I remember April 2017?

As the month that New Zealand suffered two huge storms that left whole communities cleaning up and counting the cost of floods and landslides.

The month that the Big T and I devoted much time and great care to our impromptu butterfly rescue project. With the last viable chrysalis now a shell, the wooden shelter has been deconstructed and we’re quietly congratulating ourselves that around 50 Monarch butterflies have emerged and flown away to their winter hibernation.

A month of staying close to home, of introspection and attention to detail.

A month where life feels alternately out of focus and strangely distorted.

A month I can best sum up in one image.

And since May is New Zealand Music Month, I’ll add this track — Run — from Shihad‘s 2002 Pacifier album

… so you run
whatcha holding on, holding on to
run
life is going on
all around you
run
whatcha holding on, holding on to …

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

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!

 

The Changing Seasons: March 2017

First light on Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

First light on Mt Ruapehu, Central Plateau, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I’m being a bit metaphorical with this Changing Seasons post, focusing on my road-trip with the boy-child last weekend.

Since he left home last June, I’ve only seen my child for more than a few hours at a time when he has been ill; in need of that special “mummy” care.

Last weekend we visited his grandfather in Whanganui; a road-trip of around 700km together. While it’s far from the first time we’ve traveled together, it was the first time we could share the driving and the costs. More importantly, as I quickly realised, we also had to share the decision-making.

My son is an adult now and the seasons of our respective lives have changed.

His road-trip ended at New Plymouth airport; with a flight back to Auckland and work. Mine involved a few more hours in the car (about half of them in Auckland traffic) — and a chance to get all nostalgic about New Zealand’s beautiful rural hinterland.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

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!

The Changing Seasons: February 2017

Cows and a bull grazing on a hillside against brilliant blue sky. Seen on the Awhitu Peninsula, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Another roadside attraction … Seen on the Awhitu Peninsula, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T was overseas for 18 of February’s 28 days, so it was a raggedy month where life’s normal rhythms skipped a bit.

A growing disaffection with Auckland’s rampant urbanisation, overcrowding and endless traffic congestion has driven me (at painfully low speed) from the city as often as I could get away. Trips to Karekare, the Awhitu Peninsula, the Waikato and even the Helensville A&P Show are all part of a quest to reconnect with the parts of Aotearoa New Zealand that the Big T and I love and feel connected to.

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

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!

The Changing Seasons, January 2017

Sunglasses on picnic blanket, Rangitoto Island in background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Deceptive! Mostly this month it’s been too cold and windy to spend much time outside. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

2017 began for the Big T and me at Waitangi, in Northland, NZ. We were there to help old friends celebrate their marriage. The “proper” wedding had taken place earlier in England, so the celebration — on New Year’s Eve — at Waitangi was billed as a ratification of their marriage treaty. And where better to celebrate that than the site where our country’s founding document was signed in 1840.

As the groom is Samoan and the bride English, there was plenty of cross-cultural ceremony and tradition, including welcoming the English family into the Samoan, a powhiri by the marae kapa haka group to welcome us all onto the marae at Waitangi, and lots of energetic Samoan dancing.

And with the formalities over … let’s just say we partied hard and it was a great way to welcome in a new year.

First dawn of 2017, Waitaingi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

January 1, 2017, Waitaingi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The weather has kind of gone downhill during the month, but T and I managed to take advantage of a few sunny days to enjoy some beach time at Raglan where we watched some young surfers and the Big T got an impromptu salt water shower; at Muriwai where the gannets and their chicks continue to enthrall; and on North Head where our picnic attracted the attention of the local bird-life.

And as for the rest of the month? Some time spent playing in a friend’s art studio, lots of photography and a few glasses of wine.

After all, I have to begin the year the way I intend to carry on.

Wine glass on outdoor table, with trees reflected in the wine. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Image: Su Leslie, 2017

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

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!

The Changing Seasons, November 2016

Glass of strawberries flavoured with a little lemon jest and rosemary. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Strawberries flavoured with a little lemon jest and rosemary. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

November is the beginning of strawberry season here. Proper, fat juicy local strawberries.

One of my earliest memories of summer in New Zealand involves going with my mother and brother to pick strawberries. The deal was you turned up with buckets or other containers, which were weighted on entry. You went out into the fields, picked as many berries as you wanted and paid for them an amount based on the difference in weight between the empty containers and the full ones. Luckily, they didn’t weight the pickers — especially the children.

Close up image of strawberries and rosemary stem. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Fresh, local strawberries. Yum. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The site of that strawberry garden is now occupied by a school, but there are still some local producers and I think it is still possible to go and pick your own. These days, I’m content to buy them from my local green grocer — 2 punnets for $6 at the moment.

Strawberries don’t tend to last long enough to become ingredients in our household, but I am rather pleased with this little concoction:

I quartered berries, and sprinkled them with a little bit of sugar, which was mixed with lemon zest and few fresh rosemary leaves. I left them to absorb this bit of deliciousness before adding something creamy. I like plain yoghurt, but I suspect the boy-child and the Big T would prefer ice-cream.

I also sprinkled a few toasted almond slices on top, but if I’d been making this for dessert rather than breakfast, I might have made an almond praline with some of the rosemary-infused sugar. Next time perhaps.

Strawberries, yoghurt and sliced almonds in a glass. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Breakfast, or dessert? Image: Su Leslie, 2016

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

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!