I was probably about eight or nine the first time I heard the word ‘psychedelic’. My dad brought home a poster that he thought I might like for my room. I don’t remember what it was a poster of — just that it was wildly colourful and my mother vehemently disapproved of it.
Her disapproval was certainly due to the fact that it was wildly colourful, and therefore didn’t fit with the cream, beige and tan aesthetic she imposed on our decor.
She must have been losing the “discussion” with Dad about the suitability or otherwise of my poster, because I clearly remember her saying — in the sort of tone you’d use to if the neighbour was dealing drugs from his kids’ Wendy house — “it’s psychedelic.”
The boy-child; healthy, happy and rocking the pink onesie. Image; Su Leslie 1998
Don’t you love looking at old photos of your kids?
I remember taking this shot, and more particularly remember my mother’s reaction to me dressing her grandson in pink (and lavender, lime green, red …)
That was over 20 years ago, and I had thought such outdated notions of gender-based clothing (not to mention toys, games, behaviors, etc) was steadily being consigned to the dustbin of history. Then last week I had a conversation with my sister in law about how her mother complains that my four year old niece is always dressed “like a boy” — in blue!
I live in a country that earns quite a sizeable portion of its living out of being breathtakingly beautiful.
It is true that these days human impacts on land and water are beginning to show, and we’re increasingly like a hung-over media celeb, relying on Photoshop to pixel over the cracks. But it’s still relatively easy to turn a corner or crest a hill and find a vista so beautiful you can be forgiven if you forget to breathe.
I wouldn’t say I’ve become inured to such beauty, but if I’m honest, what really takes my breath away these days is the appalling ease with which my fellow New Zealanders (and some of the paid guests we’re taking in to help pay the bills) feel it’s ok to desecrate our environment. Apart from the terrible damage inflicted on landscapes, waterways, eco-systems and wildlife, it’s biting the hand that feeds.
This is death by a thousand cuts; dumping litter, over-fishing, clearing forests to create dairy farms, freedom campers who (literally) leave their shit behind, people who turn every available patch of grass on a beach reserve into a de facto car park because someone else did it first, a national mindset that says dairy farming and tourism are GOOD FOR GROWTH and let’s not look too closely at the negative impacts … the list goes on.
As always, the prescribed treatment for my chronic environmental grump is to get out the door and connect with the little miracles of nature that also take my breath away.
Pohutukawa flowers. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Bee and blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2017
Redwoods Tree Walk, Rotorua. Image; Su Leslie 2019
Exposing the inner workings. Eroded sea-shell. Image: Su Leslie 2018
All the spring-cleaning and re-organising of my stuff that’s been going on has revealed the true extent of my fabric stash, and I am determined to start using it.
Green certainly seems to be my colour. Image: Su Leslie 2018
These shades of blue and green seem to form the palette of my life, and I think look really good on my newly painted work table.
New work table, new enthusiasm. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Sanded, sealed, splashed and sealed again; our old table repurposed. The surface is smooth enough for working with fabric, and waterproof so I can use it for painting too.
It’s amazing how having a fun, colourful workspace improves my enthusiasm for a project.
Of course the painting helps. I bought it about 30 years ago from a friend who in turn bought it in an art school graduate show. I love the colours, and the landscape is Auckland’s west coast, probably either Piha or Te Henga beach.
Making a feast of the garlic chive flowers. Image: Su Leslie 2018
Last autumn, a large clump of garlic chives in my garden flowered prolifically and proved incredibly popular with the neighbourhood bees.
Bee buffet. Image: Su Leslie 2018
I spent part of one afternoon mesmerised by the sheer number buzzing around the flowers, and trying to capture the scale of the feast with my camera. Photos just don’t do it justice, and I didn’t think to switch to video mode.
Less enjoyable, but no less fascinating, last year I watched a preying mantis make short work of a monarch caterpillar. It really was a bit gruesome, but of course not all of nature’s creatures are as attractive as bees.
Preying mantis devouring Monarch caterpillar. Image: Su Leslie 2017