The Sappy Pine

I sat outside idly watching the world as it continued on its day. These rare moments of solitude and stillness are more refreshing than any energy pills being advertised on television or in between YouTube videos. The wind stirred at the pace it was going to: Today , incidentally, was idle breeze day. The clouds in the distance were parting to reveal a blue sky. The birds made their brave show chirping, catering to their little ones in their nest, or flitting about joyously it seemed. 

Sitting outside like this, without any fast forward buttons reminds us of the nature of time. How come we manage to fill all our moments with alarms, and meetings, placing firm demands on the hours available to us, while other living beings around us manage to live in harmony with the seasons? The rose buds bloom, the fresh leaves sprout after winter, the nest eggs hatch, and life seems to go on: on a schedule of its own, quite distinct from what we have.

I watched mesmerized as the breeze rippled through the luscious pine tree nearby generating green soothing waves, and thought of the magic of life around us. Every tree, every plant was a marvel, and a couple of sparrows playing high near the top of the tree were a joy to watch. Nature’s forms are truly amazing. 

The car was parked under the beautiful tree, and enjoying its hospitable shade. I nodded approvingly as the Californian summers have started beating down after cloudy starts to the day. It is like the curtains part around mid morning, and then the sun seems to take upon itself to show us its dazzling abilities.  

Musing on how we must spend some time sleeping under the stars, watching the moonlight piercing through the sharp pine needles etc, I headed inside.

Komorebi (木漏れ日): is a beautiful word meaning the sunlight or moonlight filtering through the trees.

I managed to convey a rather jumbled version of this evocative feeling of nature to the children and husband, and they looked at me with something approaching pity. Was I alright? Did I need my head examined? They certainly weren’t having this business of sleeping under pine trees whatever else I said.

“What if a pine cone falls on your head huh?” said one, and I had no answer.

“Well….they aren’t very big pinecones.”

A large guffaw greeted this rather clever observation. I drew myself up haughtily and said, “You know how you are worried about something? Well, if you sit down outside, and watch the wind rustle the pine leaves, you aren’t. “ I said. I must admit, it sounded weak even to me, as I said it. So, I finished up strongly: “I mean nature always delivers!”

I peeked at the car standing in the shade, and shrugged happily at it. At least the car was having a good time of it. 

Maybe I should’ve waited before pandering on about the pine tree, for a few days later, the car was distinctly sticky. A large dose of pine sap had dripped on the car. 

“Eww! That is disgusting and it refuses to come off when you wipe it!” I wailed. 

The nourishncherish household exchanged amused looks and did not say, “Nature always delivers!” To that, I am grateful.

Science as an Art

I caught sight of an artist one day, sitting in the garden and painting the profusion of life around her.  I stood there drinking the contentment of the scene in. Here was beauty, poetry, art and the science behind it all in one grand stroke. How marvelous it is to stop and observe someone paying attention to the world around them?

I remembered the piece in a book recommended to me by a writer friend, Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren. The book is an example to show how each one of our stories is different in its own way. This memoir is written by a dedicated scientist, and covers among other things a rare friendship, her bipolar disorder, and her journey of a life with trees. 

In the book, Dr Jahren writes about the science and its demands on its lovers. Her writing is lyrical, and when she writes of her research and her little moments of leap, it is nothing short of poetic. For instance, she writes of studying the structure of the seeds of  hackberry trees. It is the kind of research that is, as she says, ‘curiosity-driven research’.  Dr Hope Jahren is a paleobotanist, and she goes on to say that her research is the kind of work that “will never result in a marketable product, a useful machine, a prescribable pill, a formidable weapon, or any direct material gain – or if it does indirectly lead to one of those things, this would be figured out at some much later date by someone who is not me. “ 

I have always admired the tenacity and perseverance of endeavors such as these. In the world of instant gratification, working on fields where the gratification may not arrive in your lifetime is nothing short of phenomenal. It is the work of an artist: working on something solely for their interest, because they have the aptitude to understand life around them, and to persevere in the face of odds.

In the book, she captures some moments along the path of a scientist’s life that are magical. For instance, she writes of the time she was studying the structural makeup of the seeds of hackberry trees, and she unmistakably finds traces of Opal in the seeds:

“It was opal and this was something I could draw a circle around and testify to as being true. While looking at the graph, I thought about how I now knew something for certain that only an hour ago had been an absolute unknown, and I slowly began to appreciate how my life had just changed.

I was the only person in an infinite exploding universe who knew that this powder was made of opal. In a wide, wide world full of unimaginable numbers of people, I was – in addition to being small and insufficient—special. I was not only a quirky bundle of genes, but I was also unique existentially because of the tiny detail that I knew about Creation,…Until I phoned someone, the concrete knowledge that opal was the mineral that fortified each seed on each hackberry tree was mine alone.”

How could one not smile at this? How beautifully she marvels at understanding the ecstasy of life. Walking along a forest path, I’ve often wondered how, that of the millions of seeds dropped in there, a few decide to take the leap and sprout into sapling, clawing their way up towards the light, while digging deep and finding their roots. It turns out there may be no definitive answer to that. If you were a seed, what are the parameters you would use to sprout your wings and decide where to put down your roots, knowing fully well that from then on, movement is out of the question?

There is more to the miracle of our ecosystems than we can imagine. The ones who study this profundity – astrophysicists, anthropologists, scientists, ecologists, geologists – and then, go on to share their journey with us is marvelous. #Shoshin.

Who was it who said that – when you read a book you live a thousand lives, but if you don’t read, you only live once, yours?! 

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R R Martin in A Dance with Dragons

What would we do without the internet to give the answer right away?!

Complement with:

How to Master the Ancient Art of Walking Meditation in Modern Life: A Field Guide from the Pioneering Buddhist Teacher Sylvia Boorstein

The Rings of Life

We were walking a familiar route through our neighborhood, stopping to see some of the felled trees as we do every so often. The rings in the pine trees show they must have been at least 80 years old.

img_7820
For an impatient flitter such as myself, trees are truly sentient beings. Beings that teach me about holding still, of being sentient beings for the small time we spend on this beautiful planet. Like a butterfly flitting through the Earth for a day. You can replace tree for a star in the quote below and it would still hold when one sees redwood trees, sequoia trees and old banyan trees.

“From the point of view of a mayfly, human beings are stolid, boring, almost entirely immovable, offering hardly a hint that they ever do anything. From the point of view of a star, a human being is a tiny flash, one of billions of brief lives flickering tenuously on the surface of a strangely cold, anomalously solid, exotically remote sphere of silicate and iron.”

― Carl Sagan

As I was reading Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively, I stopped to relish the section on trees. Though the book is largely about gardens, she does make a foray into trees briefly:
“Tree rings are wonderfully eloquent; here is time stated, time recorded, time made manifest. Dendrochronology- the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of tree rings-can determine past climates, or the age of a building, it can be used to calibrate radiocarbon dating, or by art historians to determine the date of a panel painting. And all because a tree grows slowly, systematically, but laying down each year a memory of what that year was likes – usually wet, dry cold, hot-whether the tree flourished and grew, or held back, and how many years have passed. And the more I think about it, the more I have come to the conclusion that this is why trees invite anthropomorphism. They are sentient in a way that a building cannot be.”

octopus_tree

When I read this piece in Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively, I thought to myself, that Covid-19 would not register in the life of trees, would it? Droughts, wildfires, these may, but Covid-19 would not. The human suffering is acute – there is no doubt about it. The true heroes are the front-line workers, such as doctors, nurses, water and essential service providers, cleaners, mailmen, supply chain workers for groceries and medication who are braving the outbreak to keep society functioning as best as it can, while the virus takes it toll. The human toll is one thing, Covid-19’s economic ramifications is quite another, reminding us of the tottering pile we have built our societies upon: Stock markets indices, economies, international boundaries, – everything that a virus can thwart on a whim.

3D_medical_animation_coronavirus_structure

What would Covid-19 imprint in our psyches? It can be a time of transformation. A time of reflection. A time to prune the unnecessary, a time to nurture the necessary, a time to get to know ourselves and our loved ones better. A time to think of needs vs wants.  A time of quiet.

We may never have taken pandemic preparedness seriously. Covid-19 is teaching us about the importance of these things. What would we need to do for far more severe outbreaks, with water-borne or air-borne diseases in the future? I am sure these will never be treated with the same levity ever again.

“Nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The more I think about it, the more I want to believe that we shall embrace Science as a Candle in the Dark. Many children will take up research in microbes. I hope we shall, from now on, invest in our infrastructure, in our research, in our general preparedness, and appreciate the fragility of life and our social ecosystems itself. Our rings in time will bear out the wisdom in the coming years if only we learn from it. One dark circle reverberating it’s learnings outward, and spreading light in the subsequent rings afterward.

“In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos. And the cumulative worldwide build-up of knowledge over time converts science into something only a little short of a trans-national, trans-generational meta-mind.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

References:

  • Life in the Garden – By Penelope Lively
  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark – Carl Sagan

The Chance To Catch A Deep Breath

What Do You Do With A Chance? Written by Kobi Yamada and Illustrated by Mae Besom, is a insightful read on a young boy who sees a chance, and decides not to take it. The chance flutters by him, and he misses it. 

images

What Do You Do With A Chance – By Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Mae Besom

The next time, he decides that he will not let a chance pass by him again, and he reaches for it as it flutters tantalizingly by him, but this time, he falls flat on his face, and is laughed at by the other children.

So, he refuses to entertain chances again. They flutter by him multiple times, but he turns his back on them. Slowly, they stop fluttering by.  Time goes on, and he starts to yearn for a chance, This time, he thinks, come what may, he will grab on and go wherever the chance takes him. 

The chance does arrive eventually, and it is a huge one. A bright shining illuminance that lights up everything nearby, and he jumps on, and soars watching the monochrome world around him explode in technicolor.  

Like all good children’s books, this one made me wonder too. 

How often have we missed chances? It is one thing for a book to beautifully illustrate a chance, but quite often the chances we miss are not always that beautifully illuminated in the landscape of our life, except perhaps in hindsight.  Sometimes chances come in the guise of problems, and they transform into opportunities. Sometimes chances are so common-place you barely recognize them at all. Sometimes, a chance comes in the form of slowing down, catching a deep breath and taking a glimpse of the world around us.

Take for instance the time I was running around a lake, watching the sunset throw its myriad patterns on the lake waters. It was beautiful and fleeting. My pounding heart was pouting at this sudden enthusiasm for fitness. I myself was quite miserable. Running can be quite the mental exercise: the mind jabbers on:

Why does it have to be so hard? Really, after all this time, has it only been a mile? So slow, I could have beat myself if I had been 5!

Then, I looked at the shining lake waters and chided my brain for being such a wet sod, took a deep gulp and pushed on. But after a few miles, I stopped by my favorite pepper willow trees. I had been running around the same spot, and yet, I had not noticed so many things. It was as though my senses suddenly woke up when I stood still. I could feel the evening breezes lift off the stray tendrils of my hair, the sun’s rays seemed magical: sunset orange is a lovely color, and the way it transformed the clouds in the sky was beautiful. Breath-taking as it was, its true beauty lay in its very essence of being ephemeral. 

img_0111

Dandelion Wine: A Sunset is only beautiful because it doesn’t last forever. – Ray Bradbury in his book, Dandelion Wine, when discussing the Happiness Machine.

I watched the pelicans go about their evening business of co-ordinated fishing, small groups of geese were making their way back to the lake, landing together smoothly with the most melodious sounding splashes, and a fluidity of movement that would have made any pilot look on with awe.

We are lucky indeed to be able to stop and enjoy nature. As humanity huddles more and more closely in densely populated urban areas, we seem to have squeezed out these natural pleasures. For decades now, people have flocked to cities in search of livelihood. What option is there otherwise? Cities get larger, people cluster closer together physically and yet farther apart emotionally. How many city dwellers know all their neighbors?

img_0118

I looked at the pelicans and geese spotting the lake as they settled down to roost for the day. There was companionship there. The pelicans were steadily drifting towards me – together, gracefully, and I could not resist going to a vantage point by the willow tree. I have always loved how these trees look like princesses, letting their tresses down in the stream – looking joyful, and serene to let the flowing water tickle the hair-tips, even as the breeze caresses their locks. 

Nature, the soother, had worked her magic again, and my heart bloomed and expanded with joy. Sometimes a chance flutters by and you need to stop and take a breath to catch it.

IMG_7145.jpg

 

Skip Your Way There

The school year was coming to a close, and I had promised the elementary school going son and his friend that I would show them a marvel on the way to school. Off we went then looking for this mystical being living in our midst. The excitement had built up in them. With the ready enthusiasm for serendipitous adventure that childhood blesses them with, they were chatting along to see this wondrous three-headed beauty, while I soaked in their infectious enthusiasm like a pup on a spring saunter.

We approached the marvel with hushed tones, and there it was, standing erect and tall, urging us to believe that there is magic and possibilities out of the ordinary: A tree in which the trunk grew for several feet , and then sprouted off in 3 different directions, like three siblings, or a three headed being, each with its own whims, but living together as one.

As I saw the tree, I could not help thinking of Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables:

I couldn’t live in a world where there were no trees; something vital in me would starve. – Anne of Green Gables – L. Montgomery

It is a beautiful tree, but what was more beautiful was the rapturous attention the children paid to it. They marveled, and the magical in them, so easily accessible under the surface bubbled up as they befriended and clambered on the tree. Off they went with their heart full of tales of the little adventure they had had that day. I could see it in the way they skipped to school that morning. 

One dressed like a princess in bubbling swirls of excitement, the other clad in a princely cloak of incredulity and wonder. An urge to skip gurgled in me. I definitely had a spring in my step as I watched them that morning. When is it that we stop skipping along? I don’t remember the time adults stopped skipping, but it should be a day we rap ourselves on our knuckles. What can be more enjoyable than skipping along to wherever we are headed? Why are our steps laden with the weight of the world?

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. 

Some see nature all ridicule and deformity. 

And some scarce see nature at all. 

But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself 

– William Blake.

cropped-curvy_bristlecone.jpg

Why can’t we imagine ourselves as princesses and princes out for a royal journey with adventures along our path everyday? In fact, once we do imagine this, the world has a way of giving us the very adventures we don’t even dare to dream about.

For us it came about in the Land of Fire & Ice, and in a world where there weren’t as many trees as I’d like, but a place that captured my heart and soul to willingly belong elementally, fundamentally, intellectually to it.

Next Stop: The Land of Fire & Ice 

Also read: About Ombu Trees in The Mockery Bird

The Physics Of Myth

“Which is your favorite tree?” asked the children one day.

I am often asked questions like this, especially by the elementary school going son. Your favorite color, your favorite food, your favorite flower and on and on till I shriek in agony, at which point he flips to – when was the first time you ate with a spoon, when was the first time you touched a frog, when did you first climb a tree?

I thought about the favorite tree one though: which one was my favorite tree? Is it the oak tree that I plonked my satchel under every day in school, or the flowering jacaranda trees under which we had steaming hot cups of tea with friends, or the tall eucalyptus tree that edged our street towering majestically against the skies signaling home was nearby, or the fir & pine trees that contributed to many an amateur flower arrangement lending beauty and joy to the surroundings, or the willow that made one want to relax just by its shape and allure, or the gingko tree that makes me smile on a evening walk, or the oleander trees that sag with flowers in the summer, or the fruit trees in my backyard that are so hospitable to squirrels ,or the redwood trees that urge me to be like them: strong, resilient and upright, or the curious, curvy bristlecone trees that remind me they are older than our oldest myths, or the pine tree with an elephant head that reminds me of the time the son as a toddler tried to fit his understanding of Physics into Myth?

 

It was a tough question and I told them so. The son scenting a ‘wild’ story from his childhood asked for the story, and I mock-sighed before telling him:

“One day a couple of years ago, when you were very much a toddler, and had just started attending a preschool, you picked up a book from the library about Lord Ganesha. You were thrilled with the find because Indian mythology is hardly found in the libraries in America, right? Lord Ganesha Curses The Moon – was the title. Appa and you settled down to read together at night.

Anyway, so, remember the story? It went something like this:

The moon used to beam as a full moon every night. One day, the moon laughed at Lord Ganesha when he tripped and fell in the forest.  Ganesha promptly got angry at the moon, and cursed it into oblivion.The whole world plunged into darkness (this was before electric lights remember?). At this, the book painted some gory pictures of the problems faced by the population because it was completely dark. People fell, people bumped into each other, people were robbed. Soon, everyone begged Ganesha to take back his curse. But he couldn’t. His word being law and all that. 

So.

An impasse was reached, and soon the king of Gods, Indra, came to him and asked him to do something about it. Ganesha thought and thought, and finally reached a compromise. He said the moon could grow from no moon to the full moon, and then shrink back again to no moon. That ought to teach him not to laugh at people. The moon agreed, and that is how it remains to this day.

ganesha_moon

After the story, Appa asked you, “What do you think of the story? Do you really think that is what happened?”

You had that serious look on your face as you thought about it, and you said, “Yes, of course. That’s when the moon must have started going around the Earth, and the Earth started spinning, so the moon could grow bigger and smaller.”

“Appa told me what you said later, and ever since I think of that story and remember how you fit your understanding of Physics into that mythological story when I see that fir tree with an elephant head.”

“Did I really do that?” asked the son laughing heartily, and I smiled.

It was true of course. His response had us flabbergasted, for we hardly ever consciously think about how we continually shape our worldly views and understanding. We subtly and subconsciously incorporate the stories we hear, choosing to consider which ones to digest and which ones to leave.

“So, as you see, I cannot only name one favorite tree. I love them all. Just like…”

“We know…. we know! Just like you love us both!”, said the children, and I smiled my favorite smile.

Essential or Eternal Communication?

I recently read a book called The Hidden Life of Trees written by a forester, Peter Wohlleben.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 8.59.19 AM

Trees have always fascinated me. I have tried becoming one with little success.

Their calm, stoic essence of being is reassuring. Trees are social beings, and they are capable of immense internal processes that not only sustain their lives, but also those of others around them.

Reading the book is like dipping into a life that we as a race can barely contemplate for as the author reminds us in the book, trees live life in the slow lane, and that is what made the reading experience refreshing. It is largely based on observations and of the forester’s study on the forests he helps to manage. Throughout the book, he cites relevant research studies that have been carried by botanists.

Trees are social beings and know that they can thrive if they look out for one another. Many interesting anecdotes dot the book such as the one with the giraffes chomping down the leaves of the acacia trees in the Savannah.

The giraffes there were feeding on umbrella thorn acacias, and the trees didn’t like this one bit. It took the acacias mere minutes to start pumping toxic substances into their leaves to rid themselves of the large herbivores.

The acacia trees that were being eaten gave off a warning gas (specifically, ethylene) that signaled to neighboring trees of the same species that a crisis was at hand. Right away, all the forewarned trees also pumped toxins into their leaves to prepare themselves. The giraffes were wise to this game and therefore moved farther away to a part of the savannah where they could find trees that were oblivious to what was going on. Or else they moved upwind.

How beautifully nature equipped the trees and giraffes for survival.

After reading about how effectively and essentially Trees communicate, I could not help comparing and contrasting our lives with those of our stoic friends. This frenzied communication lifestyle we have adapted as our own, often leads to amusing outcomes, but sometimes to questionable ones.

One morning, I set out to enjoy a leisurely week-end breakfast with the children. When the menu card says ‘Noodles’, the beaming sous chef in the home is more active than is called for. I doubt restaurant kitchens have sous chefs standing on chairs next to the chef gabbling instructions for all to hear, but our kitchen does.

AF1QipPGhzxZ4rpk1xkI0U0emQ8aWQ9bWbIm6mGj3v3r=I.jpg

Minutes later, we clattered down with our bowls of steaming instant noodles – there is something deeply satisfying about slurping the long noodle strings noisily, and reveling in the liberating feeling of not being governed by the ticking minutes of the clock for a change.

I was doing my best to ignore the incessant modes of communication that is our bane today, but I was still interrupted with the International Phone Call.  On the call, I was given the shocking news that Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp had been vying to give me, and told to check it all immediately. Apparently, the noodles I was eating that very day had 17% lead content. 17% lead. Funny because I did not feel like I had a metal tube lodged in my intestines after eating it, nor did I feel like an old ceiling waiting to be torn down. What it meant to say of course is that there were supposedly 17 parts per million of lead in the offending food item, a claim that in itself proved to be baseless later on.

lead

Quote from link: http://nextdraft.com/archives/n20170310/leaky-gut-reaction/

The wrongness of the initial stories is the result of a perfect storm of three factors: Technical subject matter, a master of disinformation, and always on race to publish stories quickly. It’s yet another reminder of the Internet’s five least common words: Let me think about that.

Should we learn the art of essential communication, and develop the ability to chaff it from the demands of eternal communication? Maybe learn a lesson or two from our stoic friends.

For a quick read: https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/09/26/the-hidden-life-of-trees-peter-wohlleben/

For the Love of ( Halloween & the Environment) – Part 2

In Part 1 of the Halloween post, I had written about deciding on an Environment themed costume for Halloween for myself. I settled upon a Tree. We had a whole hour ahead of us to plan, execute and pull it off. I don’t know whether you have tried impersonating trees, it is very easy. You send your husband to buy something, say a car or some green cloth for the tree depending on your mood, get out a piece of cardboard and some green paint. You then set your children to cut and paint a tree-top and you sit back and you wonder how to pull off looking like a tree trunk and you are set. Ask some creative friend of yours to finish up the costume, stand back and project the spirituality of stolid trees. Like Booker. T. Washington said, “There is no power on Earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life.”

There is no power on Earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life. - Booker. T. Washington
There is no power on Earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life. – Booker. T. Washington

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/11/the-spiritual-uses-of-fruit-trees-ralph-austen/

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/07/17/the-book-of-trees-manuel-lima/

Trees are wonderful and soothing. Their stoic presence, their sturdy silence and their useful practical lives should say it all. Setting aside the fact I cannot produce oxygen, or hold a sturdy silence, or be stoic, or useful, I could be a Tree. I need to stand rooted and sway a bit in the breeze. How hard can it be? I just have to be out and about for people on candy-highs on Halloween night to flock to me for some calm.

The Silent Spectator.

That went well. I only spent the whole evening explaining to all and sundry who I was. Have you tried impersonating a Tree? It is a spiritual experience in and of itself. It is not easy. For one. I don’t see Tree Costumes, so you cannot pick one up and pull it on. For another, it is dashed hard to hoist the top of a tree on a hat. It flops back and forth and does not stay sturdy. I am sure that plenty of people on Pinterest will tell you how to do it, but I can tell you how not to do it. Especially, if you try to work with a cowboy hat.

How to make a Tree Costume
How to make a Tree Costume

So, with some excellent suggestions from my friends and children, we morphed it into a Tree Nymph whose express aim was to Save Trees. I tied the painted tree around my torso, wore brown pants so my legs would serve as the trunk and then wrapped my head with flowers to look like a Tree Nymph. I don’t know how Tree Nymphs look, but neither does the majority of the populace, so now they know. They look like me.

I must say I rather enjoyed myself. The son was Spiderman and the pair of us went around telling everyone that “Amma saves trees, and Son saves Humans”. When else could I have sported that Green nail polish the daughter and I picked up so we could have Rainbow themed nails?

Is this a Tree Nymph? If you haven't seen one, then yes.
Is this a Tree Nymph? If you haven’t seen one, then yes.

Say what you will about the rains that washed the Sun-dried California after Halloween, a small irrational part of me was happy. As a Tree-Nymph, had I invited the clouds over? It was certainly part of my original theme. The husband had even suggested I walk around with a large water droplet. But we did not have time to cut and color the water droplet. I sat relishing the sounds of the fresh patter of the rain, smelling the parched Earth drinking in the moisture, and enjoying a hot cup of tea in my hands.

“Next year, let’s all go environment themed. Maybe that will end the drought. If a Tree Nymph can bring rains, ….”, I crowed, and stepped out of my door to see an uprooted tree.

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween. I did.

Life is a Tricky Canvas

There are a few trees by our walking path. Great firs, pines, eucalytpus with their mild scents and some bottlebrush trees (Apparently their biological name is Callistemon Melaleuca Myrtaceae https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callistemon. I mean if you can call Anantha Padmanabha Venkateswaran as Nandu, would you rather call him Anantha Padmanabha Venkateswaran?  I think I will continue calling them bottlebrush trees.)

Often when I walk past these trees, I think that to be a tree must be a great thing. To foster life by just living, to be the cornerstone of life as it unfolds around you must be wonderful if you have the right mindset of course. I mean, I don’t know whether trees are contented beings or go through the same tumultuousness that humankind does. But they are the steadiers for scores of nature lovers, so we assume they are content.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was not the trees, but the drama these trees witness every now and again. There is a spot of pavement near these trees that is uneven. One large slab of concrete is about 2 inches above the adjacent one. This makes for bumpy rides, trippy walks, parents telling children to be careful, husbands telling their wives to be careful and being met with retorts as to how they too can see the pavement is uneven, walkers yelling to cyclists to be careful, kids yelling to one another to watch the bump and a few scrapes and bruises as people busy squabbling about having eyes of their own neglect to watch for the step and go hurtling down.

Life is a Canvas
Life is a Canvas

Yes if that does not constitute Drama, I don’t know what does. Many attempts have been made to smooth the mini step over: logs were placed, stones were provided. One try was pretty smart, for they tried to make it a slope instead, but somehow, all attempts been half hearted. One time, there were a great many cones and much hullaballoo. A tar laying machine managed to get one half of itself on the pavement like a dog raising a foot to pee against the fire hydrant, and was making a great noise filling up the hole. It was definitely a wonderful scene to stand and watch. It proved to be a fascinating evening as we watched the gravel held together by some tar. The loose gravel was there, tar was poured half-heartedly as if wondering whether the sidewalk really needs tar, and anyway the huge thing that rolls on it to pack the gravel together couldn’t make it to the narrow pavement, so the repair-folks just left it there. The next day, the gravel started disintegrating and within a week, there was nothing left except the trees waiting to see what the next endeavor to tackle this spot would be.

Things went on and every now and then there would be an attempt to level the flagstones and nothing would happen thereafter. All that changed last week when the city decided to pour cement and make it all even instead. This looked like the thing.

Once the cement dried, I was appalled to see that some couple had used the drying concrete as a canvas on which to declare their undying love and had carved their initials in while it was still drying. Looking at that graffiti annoys me much more than the inconvenience of tripping up every now and then. I have the same feeling of bubbling annoyance when I visit any of the heritage sites in India. Beautiful structures all telling us how much DV loves BB. If you are DV, and truly love BB, please use that marvelous force to forge a meaningful life not just for DV and BB, but DV&BB’s friends, colleagues and community too.

When I saw this news article, it looked to me like nature slapped us all in the face with her sarcasm.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/face-in-cliff-canada-island-hank-gus_n_7651798.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news

I quote from the article:

Mother Nature is capable of creating all sorts of amazing things, though the face is very striking.” 

Of course, this tied in with another alarming news article with a typical doomsday line to the mass of grey cloud:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/earth-extinction-phase_n_7629330.html

The article states that the rate of extinction brought about by mankind is 114 times the normal rate for species to die out and regenerate themselves.

At this rate, the human rock face maybe the one to tell future lifeforms about our race, and if they look elsewhere, they may also know that DV loved BB, if those lifeforms also have hearts and use that to symbolize love.

Life is a tricky canvas.

%d bloggers like this: