A Burst of Life: Nature Photography

A Burst of Life: Nature Photography – Spiders


I shot this spider and the green bullet looking pouch (pictured below) with babies, over two days before they disappeared from my garden. That was a few days ago. It was a burst of life with small moving creatures on the dull sturdy orchid plant – a typical Queensland nature. The black ant should give you an idea of how tiny these babies were.

I’m not sure if the same spider (above) had all these babies.  I tried to Google it. They (both the large and baby spiders), were on the same orchid. I think the baby spiders were eaten by birds before I went back, on the third day. The delay in posting on this blog was because I had to try to find the name of the spider and see if these babies came from it. I was also watching the Australian Tennis Championships in between the spider investigation. I still don’t have a clue. If anyone knows, please tell me.
































Kau Kau Cuttings – Watercolour

Kaukau Cuttings. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

My mother and I have been planting Kaukau or sweet potato cuttings. We hope, we will soon stop buying the good kaukau at Coles for $9 per kilogramme. The cheaper – $6 per kg kaukau, is tasteless, so we took the expensive one and tried to grow it.

It was natural to have kaukau on my mind when I painted my first watercolour this year. Women is Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, share kaukau cuttings and this is how they transport the leaves – in bilums. Sometimes they would be given the cuttings by friends and family members. Other times they bring the cuttings from the garden home to plant near their houses.

In fact, it weren’t for my mother being in Brisbane, I wouldn’t plant kaukau because it is too much work. The soil is too dry and if rain does grow the tuber; hare, possums, rats and who knows what else, eat the leaves. Often the animals dug for the tubers as well. This time we used bamboo stakes and placed a net around the garden. My mother was determined.

I had to give in to this planting, because my mother would not give up. And now, I’m glad I went along with her. We planted two species, one was our favourite Hawaiian kaukau from Coles.  Another kaukau called wan mun (one month) was given to us by my friend Marina. That term wan mun meant literally in one month we would eat the tuber. That has not happened yet. I’m not surprised because the conditions here are tough.

We are still waiting for the one month kaukau to bear and it is now three months. The Hawaiian sweet potato is white skinned and purple inside. I chopped the tips off and grew them in a drum until the shoots were strong enough to transfer to the garden. It was a long process.

Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

Unlike the women I had painted and their gardens, the kaukau in our garden seemed to take forever to grow. I remember growing it in the humid Lae (PNG) climate. Six months gone in Brisbane, and we now start to see the kaukau leaves spread and grow rapidly. I stuck my fingers under soil to see whether there were really any tubers – and there are. I was inspired to really bring these tubers to harvest. I will post some pictures here at harvest time. I don’t know when that is.

“We have to wait for a few more months”, my mother said. This was because, she said the hot summer and then hail storms last year killed off all the leaves and then the surviving tubers re-grew new shoots. We cut the stems and planted more. Now my son has this crazy idea we could build a larger garden to grow more. (I don’t think so...I muttered under my breath).

I hope you enjoy my watercolours and I will keep you posted on the sweet potatoes.

Women & Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©



‘Are’are Sounds: Solomon Islands – Melanesia

Some of you that are new to this blog may not know that I promote art, culture and heritage from Papua New Guinea, my country of origin and the Melanesian region.  Music plays a large role in the Melanesian content that I promote. It was one of the reasons I started this blog two years ago. It is very important for me to continue to share and persevere in promoting as a way of safeguarding some of the Melanesian cultures, and I hope that you enjoy this journey with me, not only for its purpose, but the beautiful sounds.

The spectacular playing of stamping tubes by the ‘Are’are people is one of the twenty musical genres filmed by Hugo Zemp. This YouTube preview presents six short excerpts of a 2h20 long film in which each musical genre, one more beautiful than the other, is shown in length and commented by master musician ‘Irisipau. The 2-DVD set allows discovery and appreciation of the extraordinary richness of musical invention and polyphonic splendor of only 8000 ‘Are’are people living in the Solomon Islands, South-Western Pacific.

Read more in related article





New Birth: New Year

Happy New Year to all the readers of Tribalmystic blog. It is three years today that this blog, Tribalmystic Stories was born and I want to thank you all for following, participating and reading some of the stories. I have had a nice break, and I hope you have had the same. I’m looking forward to a new and interesting year ahead of us.

I wanted to begin 2017 with a tough shot I tried to take throughout the day today. It was not easy to photograph this mother and baby spider together; one on either side of the web and with the breeze flanking their gold web like a flag. Lucky for me, they did not move away from this super location (from the back veranda to the garden) and at various times, when I tried to take a better picture, both insects could not keep still. I hope you like the pictures.