“What do you do in the evenings?”, asked a young colleague after telling me about the exciting things that city life has to offer. Maybe my twenty year old could have stood the revels. Hectic – yes, that is the word I am looking for. I myself prefer the quiet lifestyle. I suppose everybody wonders from time to time what everybody else does. I told him I take a walk around the neighborhood in the evenings. He gave me a withered look. I must have sounded like a septuagenarian to his young mind.
“Err … any night life where you live? “, he quizzed, clearly not willing to give up on me just yet.
I felt it best to keep away from the domestic angle of things and spared him the details of my many culinary adventures to feed the family, and instead went for the wild flora-and-fauna angle. You know, give him the exciting side of things and so on. I told him that I recently found that a rather fat mouse comes along to the garden every night and scratches around near the fence for some food. Whether he finds it, I don’t know, but he makes enough of a noise to attract the fat black cat, and I sometimes fear for his safety, but as he(the mouse) himself seems happy enough, I cannot do much. He looked astounded. Impressed at having impressed the fellow, I plunged on. I told him that the birds coming home to their nests is a welcome sight at dusk. He thought I was cuckoo.
So walk huh? he said circling back to what he thought was safe ground again.
The delights of an evening walk, are free, and one either likes it or has not tried it often enough to enjoy it. The seasonal delights are there for the taking, and the mind is happy enough to disassociate itself from the cares and wont’s of the corporate world for that period.
As I take a walk down in the summer evenings, I am always amazed at the flower laden trees and plants. The Oleander trees are heavy with summer flowers of various colors, the rose bushes are thriving scenting the air, the rhododendron and bougainvillea overflow, even late daffodils peek out here and there. I just learnt the name of another flowering tree: Crepe Myrtle. That sounds like the name that can spark a thousand songs.
A peek of yellow hibiscus flowers is a welcome sight. I have seen red ones, they are common enough, but white and yellow ones are another treat altogether. It took me back to the days when we plucked hibiscus leaves, soaked them in hot water and then made a fine paste to use as a hair conditioner. To date, no commercial conditioner comes close. Yet, I feel I cannot walk to Mr. Chin Cho’s lawn and ask him to pluck some hibiscus leaves from his tree to condition my hair. It just wouldn’t do. Plus Mr Chin Cho doesn’t look like the kind of man who cares about the texture of my hair.
I learnt recently that I had spent vast amounts of time near Aloe, and knew nothing of it. I could have just cut a stalk and rubbed my face, instead of taking the car and dashing off to Traders Joe to buy their cream with nourishing aloe vera. (The gardener was instructed to remove the plant about a year ago. In my defense, ‘Instructed’ is strictly not the right term to use here. I asked him what plant it was in Spanish, and he looked sad, and waved his hand about quite a bit. The next thing I knew the plant was gone. )
Summer also means fruits. Apricots, peaches, and plums jostle on the fruit trees, and the squirrel, Polly, is very busy.
I thought about how much the little things in life matter. A friend of mine shared her plum produce with me, generously giving me more than I could competently handle on my own. In her home, we tasted plum chutneys and plum jams, and I came home inspired. Last night, I was the paragon of domestic efficiency and made plum pickle. The thing is looking very proud and beetroot-pink in the refrigerator.
Maybe I shall tell the young fellow about the exciting night life in my kitchen and seal my reputation.