A peaceful co-existence

Close-up shot of garden snail moving across a grapefruit leaf. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Snail on grapefruit leaf. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Or perhaps traverses a leaf?

I picked our remaining grapefruit this morning, and found this little creature on a leaf. Not welcome near my vegetable garden, I found it a new home amongst the ferns and Pittosporum in the farthest corner of the yard.

Regular Random: five minutes on a damp lawn

Coprinellus disseminatus (Fairies Bonnets); tiny mushrooms in a domestic lawn. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Coprinellus disseminatus (Fairies Bonnets); just popping up in the lawn. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

This is something quite magical about tiny fungus suddenly appearing in the lawn. To photograph them, I have to place myself on the cold, damp earth in which they thrive. I’m transported to a miniature world where I see the taken for granted with fresh eyes.

I’ve edited these shots to reflect that slightly other-worldly feeling.

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

DP Photo Challenge: the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning

The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. Close-up shot of Monarch butterfly chrysalis hanging from cable tie against black background. The wings are already visible as the chrysalis shell becomes translucent, indicating that emergence is imminent. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Monarch butterfly almost ready to emerge from chrysalis. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It is a special privilege to observe nature at work. Over this past summer, the milkweed that the Big T and I planted attracted record numbers of monarch butterflies. When it became clear that most of the caterpillars were falling prey to wasps and praying manti, the Big T built a butterfly sanctuary. This meant that not only did dozens of caterpillars survive to emerge as viable butterflies, but that we had ring-side seats to one of nature’s most beautiful shows.

We watched and documented the transition from egg to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly — right up to the moment our “babies” flew away for their winter hibernation.

The Daily Post Photo Challenge | Delta

“The light always comes back…”

Early morning sun and mist on sports field, Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Morning sun breaking through the mist. Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

My morning walks have become longer again, and are beginning to require a certain military precision in their organisation. Keys — tick. Woolly layers — tick. Toes strapped (experiment in postural correction) — tick. Fitness tracker, headphones, smartphone, new podcasts downloaded — yes, yes, yes and yes.

I’m a huge fan of BBC Radio 4 podcasts, and this morning the Desert Island Discs of Scottish writer and poet Liz Lochhead provided the soundtrack as I set off into the mist that mantled Greenhithe.

Early morning, Greenhithe Road. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Early morning, Greenhithe Road. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sunrise behind the cabbage trees. Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Dr Suess-like cabbage trees, Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The title of this post is from the poem In the Mid-Midwinter, by Liz Lochhead. It seems particularly appropriate today as nature has already bestowed on Greenhithe an almost white-out mist, bright winter sunshine and now a sky of “dreich greyness” as the rain approaches.

In the Mid-Midwinter

‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s – from John Donne’s
‘A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, being the Shortest Day’.

At midday on the year’s midnight
into my mind came
I saw the new moon late yestreen
wi the auld moon in her airms though, no,
there is no moon of course,
there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of
in the sky except a gey dreich greyness
rain-laden over Glasgow and today
there is the very least of even this for us to get
the light comes back
the light always comes back
and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.
there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,
fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,
and lines of old songs we can’t remember
why we know
or when first we heard them
will aye come back
once in a blue moon to us
bless us with their long-travelled light.

Liz Lochhead

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

Some thoughts on atmospheric conditions, focus and the illusion of isolation


All it takes is a change of focus to see what lies beyond us. Raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I woke this morning to find the world beyond my street has disappeared.

A mist has rolled across the harbour and made an island of this, slightly elevated, piece of land I call home. Beyond the neighbours’ roofs, a stand of macrocarpa trees fades softly into a flat, grey void.

The still air carries the sound of motorway traffic in the distance, but like shapes in the mist, the sound is muffled and indistinct — a mere hint of life beyond this temporary island.

For this time I am alone; the drivers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists either still at home or invisible to me.

For this time I can enjoy the quiet and solitude, the safety and peace, of my island. Soon it will be gone; evaporated by the climbing sun. Once again I will be part of a bigger, messier, noisier whole.

I can’t ponder this without thinking of John Donne, and THAT poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

I imagine all over the world right now, good people are reading and quoting this rebuke of isolationism, even as the sound of guns being cocked and drawbridges being pulled up echo through the mist.

For those of us who have a safe place — a home, a friendly neighbourhood, a peaceful country — it is tempting to build a fence, patrol the boundaries, create rules for entry. It is tempting to hold on to what we have and create a mist to obscure that which is beyond.

It is tempting to zoom in and focus on what is near. But however blurred by our lens, there is always a background in shot which must share our attention too.

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