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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


First pohutukawa blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The arrival of pohutukawa flowers is a sure sign summer is approaching.


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.


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


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. 

Reflecting on reflection

Sometimes reflection offers us more than we can hope to deal with. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

Sometimes reflection offers us more than we can hope to deal with. Photo: Su Leslie 2013

“Reflect” is one of those words that has both physical and metaphysical dimensions. At one level, we’re talking about the action of light on a surface:

1. To throw or bend back (light, for example) from a surface.

2. To give back or show an image of (an object); mirror. [The Free Dictionary]

… and on the other we use it to describe a set of thought processes

4.   a. To think seriously.     

      b. To express carefully considered thoughts [The Free Dictionary]

At this time of year there seems to be a social expectation of reflection and renewal. From a wholly arbitrary point in the way we measure time – midnight on December 31 – we extrapolate a metaphor of change and (usually) improvement. Newspaper and magazine articles tell us how to phrase New Year’s resolutions that will last, how to make sure we stick to them, what other people resolve to do – even the top 10 resolutions. The media also tells us (as if we didn’t know) that hardly any of us keep New Year resolutions.

Insofar as I’ve ever made New Year resolutions, I’m one of the vast majority who falls off whatever wagon I’ve hitched myself to – usually within the first few days of January. Most often I forget that I’ve even resolved to lose weight, exercise more, stop snacking straight from the fridge, keep a diary, write a play, phone my mum more often. Does that mean I didn’t reflect enough on my life? Or on the processes of change? Or does it mean that reflection is not a particularly straightforward process?

When we think of reflection, I suspect our first image is that of a mirror. We stand in front of it and a single image – us – is reflected back. But I think that in the normal course of life, reflection is more indirect, accidental and obscure. It’s more like the photo above – we glance in a shop window that contains mirrors and crystals and other shiny things and what we see is a kaleidoscope of fractured and distorted images. We’re there, but only as one element of a bigger picture. What is “real”? What is reflection? Background becomes foreground and the incidental is magnified.

That’s not to say that we can’t see ourselves clearly sometimes. But I do think it helps to acknowledge that life isn’t lived before a single mirror, and that what looks like a flaw in the isolation of one lens can be utterly beautiful in the interplay of many.

I also think that if you really want to change something, do it now. Don’t wait for New Year (although yes, I do know it’s only a short wait).

This post was written in response to Sue Llewellyn’s Word a Week Photography Challenge which you can find out more about here.

Here are some other posts on the theme that I enjoyed:

A Word a Week Photograph Challenge: Reflect

Reflections on 2013