The Changing Seasons, November 2020

Raglan Harbour, Waikato, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. — Douglas Adams

You know when you have a great idea, and it seems quite straightforward.

So you invest a bit of time. Then it starts to get complicated, and there’s a deadline.

But damn, it’s a great idea and you’re not going to be beaten or back down.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the idea was simple. With Covid and whatnot, it’s been a very virtual year, and I thought it would be nice to post people actual Christmas cards (with hand-written messages), instead of just sending emails or texts, or trying to remember my FaceBook password.

And because I’m quite arty, I thought I’d make the Christmas cards.

But since I didn’t fancy doing 20 or so watercolours, and my lino-cuts were a fail last year, I thought I’d take some nice photos and get them printed onto cards.

And then, because I love food, I thought the photos should be of Christmas goodies. Which of course I’d have to bake.

You see where I’m going with this?

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. — Douglas Adams

Plan B 1/2 — the baking left a bit to be desired. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Suffice to say, I’ve learned a lot about cookie-making, royal icing and bokeh.

But. I barely managed to post my overseas cards before the van arrived to empty the box on the last day NZ Post claims they will deliver them by Christmas (and no, I’m not holding my breath).

And. I am rather pleased with them.

I would show you, but as I don’t know your postal addresses, I’ll almost certainly end up using the images here anyway, by way of a Merry Christmas to you all.

So from where I’m sitting now, my November has been one long baking, icing and photographic session.

But the month started with a short trip to the Waikato, during which I did no baking or icing and very little food photography, unless you count shots of food trucks at Gourmet in the Gardens, at Hamilton Gardens.

This is a weekly event, run every Sunday night over summer, and it was fabulous. The Rhododendron Lawn becomes a vast picnic area, ringed by food trucks serving some really nice food.

I chatted to one of the organisers and was really impressed by how carefully thought-out the whole event is. They even bring in a caravan containing a couple of dishwashers, so that all of the cutlery and crockery can be reused. Apparently the forks and knives came from cleaning out practically every thrift shop in Hamilton.

We spent the night in Hamilton, and drove home via Raglan (only a short detour), which became a longer detour as we explored the Te Akau area on the north side of Raglan Harbour.

One road in, one road out. Thirty or so kilometres of gravel road through some really pretty countryside, and a wharf at the end with some very cool rock formations.

I don’t know if our trip counts as supporting the local tourist industry, but it did confirm that we probably won’t be buying land at Te Akau — unless we also bought a boat that would get us across the harbour to Raglan (about a 10 minute trip).

That’s unlikely, as neither T nor I are natural sailors.

Rock formations, Te Akau Wharf, Waikato. In the background, Raglan. Ten minutes by boat; 90 minutes by road. Image; Su Leslie 2020

The Changing Seasons, contributor’s guidelines

In the last couple of Changing Seasons posts, I’ve talked about the guidelines for this project and sought feedback on them.

Based on this, and my own thoughts I’m suggesting the following — only slightly amended from the Cardinal’s original — guidelines.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly blogging 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.

Or you might like to share a recipe or instructions for something you’ve made — or just show us what you’ve done.

Post length and photo numbers

There are no fixed rules around this; just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement.

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 already posted an image on your blog, it’s probably not a good idea to use it again — unless it really helps to tell your story. 

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

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Xingfumama

Natalie the Explorer

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful

Pauline from Living in Paradise

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Sarah at Art Expedition

The Changing Seasons, October 2020

Work in progress; a metaphor for life. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Mulch.

If October could be summed up in one word, that word would be mulch.

It’s been a good month for gardening with lots of warm, still days, so the Big T and I have been super-busy making new borders and raised beds, sewing seeds, weeding, planting and transplanting — you know the drill.

Early on we took possession of a mulch mountain and have gradually eroded it to barely a hillock. 

And while the garden now looks significantly different, it’s really not photogenic. But with luck (and a bit of rain), by November’s Changing Seasons, I’ll have something to show you that looks more interesting than relocated piles of mulch.

In the meantime …

Garden success #1: transplanted lemon verbena thriving. Image: Su Leslie 2020
Garden success #2; kaka beak (Clianthus maximus) grown from seed. Image: Su Leslie 2020
Garden success #3; experimental wicking garden. Beetroot almost ready to harvest. Image; Su Leslie 2020

Apart from gardening, I don’t feel as though I’ve done mulch at all in October (see what I did there).

NZ’s general election seemed to split the month in two, and it’s only with hindsight I realise how anxious I was about the outcome. In the end, the Labour Party made history by being the first under our proportional representation system able to govern outright. While this does mean the government can’t blame inaction on conservative coalition partners, it also means that the Green Party, despite an increased number of MPs, won’t necessarily have a place in government. And NZ’s woeful record on addressing climate change and basic issues of social justice will probably remain woeful.

But in the spirit of accepting personal responsibility for our part in the climate disaster, T and I abandoned the car and took a ferry into central Auckland on a recent visit to the art gallery.

I continue to play with art materials; more for the joy of experimenting than with any particular result in mind. Alcohol inks and air-dry clay are my current favourites.

About the Changing Seasons

In last month’s Changing Seasons post I asked for feedback about the guidelines for posting, which have been unchanged since this challenge was established by Cardinal Guzman in 2015.

Thanks for all your comments.

The general feeling seems to be that we’re mostly happy that the structure allows us to share our reflections on the month in whatever way suits us, and the guidelines are mainly for anyone new to The Changing Seasons.

The things that were mentioned were the limit on photo numbers and the requirement to only use new images. Most people who mentioned the shot limit agreed it was a good idea (though we all admitted to exceeding it).

I am aware that most of us follow a very large number of blogs and do so actively — engaging with the content beyond simply hitting the “like” button. My own view is that having people read my blog is a privilege I must continue to earn by doing my best to be interesting, and respecting the value of your time and engagement. For me that means editing the text (and then editing it again) and trying to only use images that help tell the story.

As for the requirement to use new images; I’ve always seen that as a request not to bore readers by recycling shots they have already seen.

I had planned to include draft text of some updated guidelines here, but as I’ve already written more than usual, I’ll do that in a separate post.

Until then, feel free to add comments to my musings, and of course link to this post in your own so that I can update accordingly.

Update

Tracy from Reflections of An Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Ladyleemanila

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Sarah at Art Expedition

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Pauline from Living in Paradise

Natalie from Natalie the Explorer

Lani from Life, the Universe and Lani

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Gil at Talking Thailand

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, December 2019

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Mt Ruapehu from the Desert Road. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I’ve struggled to write this post.

As the year has worn on, I — like so many people — have become increasingly angry, sad, frustrated, disillusioned and, frankly, exhausted by the world around me.

Like many, I fluctuate between bouts of active optimism and periods of despair.

Despair’s had the upper hand this month, with the result that I’ve done very little and taken fewer photos than usual. Fewer still I’m happy with.

A pre-Christmas road-trip to see my dad and stepmother produced the best shots, and confirmed that I really like both Whanganui and the surrounding countryside — even (or especially) in stormy weather.

The approach of Christmas meant my son could be persuaded to pose for a photo — Grandma insisted and that’s pretty much the only reason he’ll agree. He’s successfully completed university for another year and is working long hours over the summer — looking forward to finishing his degree next year.

img_6190 The boy-child. Image: Su Leslie 2019

As always, some of my favourite images are of the small things — generally plants. We harvested the first of the plums just after Christmas; the tinsel bird-deterrent having done its job. The second plum tree is more fruit-laden, but they won’t be ripe for another week or two.

My principal gardening success at the moment seems to be with seedlings. The Kakabeak I’ve been nurturing for a few months is thriving, and it looks like almost all of the Kowhai seeds I harvested from our tree have germinated. Even the loquat seedlings are doing well. Gathered from a tree at my son’s flat, they took about three months to germinate but are now growing fast. The travelling hydrangeas are holding their own — but barely — and I may have to look beyond Google for advice.

I’m glad that 2019 is coming to an end.

I don’t normally buy in to the “New Year resolutions” thing, but this year I will be taking this socially-sanctioned opportunity to re-start and move into 2020 with the energy and enthusiasm I know I’m going to need.

img_6189 Image: Su Leslie 2019

Wishing you all good health, good friends, laughter, love, and the energy you will need in your own lives.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou

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

Brian at Bushboys World

Sarah at Art Expedition

Marilyn at Serendipity seeking intelligent life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

Jude from Life at the Edge

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Pauline at Living in Paradise

A wonderful Sheep

Gill at Talking Thailand

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons, November 2019

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Fern frond; slowly unfurling to release the seeds of new life. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I think if I had to find one word to describe myself at the moment, it would be introspective. Exhausted worrying about a world I have little power to influence, I’ve withdrawn to the personal, domestic space where my thoughts and actions can make a difference.

I began the month in New Plymouth, visiting the gardens — both beautiful and functional — of the Taranaki Garden Festival and Sustainable Backyards Trail. I met people who grow their own food on tiny suburban plots, others who are creating off-grid lifestyles, and some of the professional gardeners whose job it is to care for the area’s stunning Regional Gardens — at Tupare, Pukeitiand Holland Gardens.

I came home energised, inspired and with my head as full of free-range, sustainably grown, nutrient-dense ideas as I’d hoped. The gardens deserve their own posts (I am working on them, honest), but there was a lot to enjoy just travelling to, and being in, Taranaki.

Back in Auckland I haven’t strayed too far from home; venturing onto the (relatively) new ferry service from Hobsonville Point to the city one afternoon.

And walking amongst the lupin-covered dunes at Muriwai Beach.

Perhaps now that summer has arrived, I will feel more inclined to look outward.

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

Please visit these bloggers to see how November played out for them.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Margaret at The Secret Diary of a Garden

Lani at Life, the Universe, and Lani

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

A Wonderful Sheep

Jude at Life at the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Sarah at Art Expedition

Brian at Bushboys World

Joining us for the first time:

Dawn at A Shared Space

Darren at Arty Plantsman

 

The Changing Seasons, October 2019

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Kakabeak seedling No. 1. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I just looked back over my past few Changing Seasons posts, and this will be the third consecutive month I’ve talked about how cold and rainy and windy it’s been.

Consequently, once again I haven’t strayed far from home, and have taken very few photos. The silver lining though is that I’ve spent time extra working on the horticulture course I’m taking and have passed the first paper.

If I had to sum October up, I’d say it’s been a growing month. Lots of the seeds I’ve planted have germinated — including a second kakabeak. New plants that we’ve been able to shelter are thriving and we should be able to pick the first tomatoes quite soon. My gardening knowledge has grown, and with it my confidence.

I’d still really like some sunshine soon though. Especially as I’m off to New Plymouth tomorrow to explore the Taranaki Garden Festival and Sustainable Backyard Trail.

So apologies in advance if I’m a little slow to update the Changing Seasons blogroll. With luck I’ll be filling my brain with free-range, sustainably grown, nutrient-dense ideas (and my tummy with yummy produce).

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

Jude at Life at the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful\

A Wonderful Sheep

Donna at DJ Ranch

Brian at Bushboys World

And a huge welcome to …

Amy at The world in a Book

Tatiana at Travelways

Margaret at From Pyrenees to Penines

Horse Addict

… all of whom are joining us for the first time this month.

 

The Changing Seasons, September 2019

hokianga heads1001 Hokianga Harbour, above Omapere. The sand dunes on the far side are gradually being covered with forest. Image: Su Leslie 2019

My September began in Omapere, on the Hokianga Harbour — a long weekend for the Big T and I revisiting an area we first explored in our early days together. Without knowing it when we booked, we even stayed in the same place, though it has been transformed from a small motel into a larger hotel complex.

In the thirty years since we lasted visited, the giant sand dune on the western side of the harbour has begun to disappear under vegetation — an environmental success, but making the dune a little less spectacular.

On the other hand, the foreshore at Omapere is disappearing into the sea. Along the beach was clear evidence of massive erosion, including several houses and large areas of reserve that have collapsed into the beach. Enormous concrete barriers have been placed on the lawn of the hotel to “protect” the building, but I suspect that if T and I were to visit in another 30 years, we’d need to find alternative accommodation to stay on dry land.

My gardening efforts this month have been very modest; lots of planning and tidying, some helicopter parenting of a few seeds and seedlings, and trying to enjoy the spring flowers before wind and rain destroy them.

T and I celebrated my birthday with a few days in Wellington — my favourite home away from home. T hardly ever visits our capital city, so it was fun playing tourists together. As always seems to happen when I visit, the weather was good for most of our stay and the clouds were rolling in as we left — perfect.

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

Because I’ve been a bit slow this month, four of my fellow bloggers have already posted their Changing Seasons;

Ju-Lyn at All things bright and beautiful

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Jude from Life at the Edge

A Wonderful Sheep

Please pop over to see how September played out for them, and also:

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Brian at Bushboys World

Gill at Talking Thailand