Oh Rapturous Spring!

A Version of this post was published in The India Currents Magazine : Oh Rapturous Spring!

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.
Rachel Carson: A Sense of Wonder

Growing up in the hills of South India, our seasons were broadly divided into: Rainy and Not-Rainy.

It was beautiful and scenic all around, and I am eternally grateful for a childhood spent in these charming environs. It isn’t a gift granted to many, and I realized it as a child, and even more so as an adult who lives far away from these beautiful hills.

We had the following seasons:
South west monsoons in June/July
North west monsoons that doubled up for Winter in Nov, Dec
It rained almost 9-10 months of the year. April, May were months we could hope for sunshine, and these doubled up as Summer.

This many rainy months without electronic stimulation meant that we learnt to occupy ourselves with books and our imaginations. (Complaining about being bored got us the gift of chores or more homework. We were smart enough to give these two a wide berth and be completely at peace with ourselves). The books I read were varied and often spoke of hideous adventures, some sleuthing that was just off the charts, travel etc. Many of these books were set in Europe where the seasonality was different from the rainy and not-rainy strains we saw. They spoke rapturously of Spring and Autumn.

sultan's life

I have to admit, I did not truly get the meaning of Fall and Autumn till I saw it for the first time with my own eyes.

When I first moved to the United States as a wide-eyed bride, everything about the weather and seasons seemed wondrous (it still does). Suddenly, what the books were talking about when they referred to Autumn and Spring took on a new meaning.

The bare trees have a beauty of their own. How could there be trees without any leaves I wondered when I first came. But every year, since, my heart has burst at this explosion of beauty when the leaves change colors, when the stark branches stand out, and when the flowers burst forth on the trees all at once, before slowly growing and complementing them with leaves.

I watch wondrous, a child again, as I see my flowering cherry tree, the apricot tree that flowers a little later etc.

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Looking at the Earth fresh and green in its Spring glory has been marvelous. Oh heart, does it not sing when you see geese flying towards the waters and making a perfect landing? The joyous anticipation of seeing mallard babies as they get ready to hatch in a few weeks has me in a tizzy. The blooming of my first daffodils have given me joy beyond measure.

Growing up in the Nilgiris gave me the immeasurable gift of finding pleasure in the simple gifts of nature. It is the reason I persist in passing this on to the children, even though I am given the who-is-the-little-nature-nutcase? pat on the head by them.

I could not have put it better than Rachel Carson in her small book, A Sense of Wonder:

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring.

Rachel Carson – A Sense of Wonder

When the Stars Shine Down

You know how William Blake said something about Wonder? I had forgotten, but luckily the Internet is there for souls like me who wonder vaguely what was it the bloke called Blake said about Wonder and Voila there it is.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour.”

William Blake

You can use your sense of wonder for a great many things: To marvel at the bunk beds as the daughter and her friends did, or at the restrooms as the son did on our recent camping trip.

The husband and I fulfilled our sense of wonder by watching the night sky. Where we live, the stars are dimmed out by the lights of civilization, but even then, we set out every now and then to star gaze. Every time, we are a little farther away from the lights of civilization, we look up and admire all those generations before us who studied the skies and named the constellations. What a gift it is to us! One truly realizes the value of accumulated wisdom when one gazes upon the limitless night sky, does one not?

On that warm summer night, as we sat around the campfire after an exemplary meal, it was with that feeling of humility and gratitude that anything to do with the stars brings on, that we gazed. As we sat there, every now and then, we would detect a satellite moving across the sky. We even saw a few shooting stars in the sky. Conversation turned to how even the campfire’s lights can mask the true glory of seeing the Milky Way.

Time wore on and we turned in for the night.

We may have retired, but the son’s mind was still reflecting subconsciously on the wonders of the automatic flush or the blinking red light in the bathroom, I would never know. What I do know is that he got up enthusiastically every few hours to get a whiff at the wonderful restroom. It was at his 3:15 a.m. marveling session that I decided to make the best of it.

Stars Shine Down
Stars Shine Down

Maybe, this was nature’s way of granting me the joy of seeing the true beauty of the Milky Way.  I slipped out and stood under the stars inhaling the grandeur of it all. The mortal sufferings, the pain humanity goes through, the agonies we endure everything seems to stop for that moment when the stars shine down. It is as beautiful as it is therapeutic.

I came back yearning to see the beauty of the night sky again and found this trove of beautiful pictures of the night sky:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2664460/Our-amazing-skies-Beautiful-pictures-astronomy-photography-finest-competition-attracts-record-number-entries.html

Everybody should get themselves a dose of the night sky every once in a while, even if it means visiting the restroom fifteen times with a wonder-filled toddler.