July, August and September,the months sandwiched between tourists and festivals, top the list of “good months in Ranikhet”.
Six years and counting…six years of getting soaked in sudden showers, of watching dry brown turn to thick green, of waking up to the steady rhythm of falling rain, and going to sleep with a lullaby of the same rhythm.
The location of each “Snake plant”, every patch of mushroom ( the big toadstools and the tiny showers-of-white-and-gold-mushrooms), every wild begonia and pitcher plant–I can point them out before the plants appear.
July is the month of anticipation–for the heat to subside, for the fat grey clouds to appear on the horizon and for the tourists to disappear. Business slumps in the market and in the taxi stand, but the villages are gearing up for busy days. It begins with “Harela “, the first day of Shravan, to welcome the rains. 5 different grains are planted in a mud vessel, so that fresh green seedlings can be offered to visitors for tucking behind the ear ( 6 years ago, I had eaten them up!), and the winter crop planting can begin.
This July, in a concerted effort to bring back the forest, a local NGO teamed up with the Forest Department to plant saplings and nurture them into a forest. School children, town officials, forest guards, and residents–everyone teamed up to plant trees, listen to some much-needed words on taking responsibility for the hill slopes ( and not littering them with discarded water bottles and snack packets), eat hot samosas and sweet jalebis, and cross their fingers for those tiny saplings. Nature seems to have approved this effort– we are being blessed with steady showers punctuated by weak sunshine.
The holy month of Shravan is replete with fasting and performing pujas. The knitters take turns in vanishing to their family village, and the knitting output falls. Six years have taught me to take this slump in my stride. Its a month for taking time off, for savouring the rain and the mist, for being glad for this home in the hills, and for tucking into the freshest veggies ever! These days, this cookery book is my favourite reading tome, as I try out traditional tasty recipes with gourds, pumpkins and brinjals! No, don’t wrinkle your nose–come over and try these delicious dishes!!
Oh yes, how can I forget the knitting?! This is the month when early autumn patterns appear, wool can be knit again, and the mind nudges me towards winter knitting plans. I am working on a deceptively simple sweater with an overall slip stitch pattern. Its been on my needles on a while, and I am going to complete it before indulging in my favourite activity–standing in front of the open stash cupboard and pulling out yarns to feel their potential!
A lucky one leaves the cupboard, the others just go back into their dark corners for some more time…
July gets written about, the other monsoon months just go back to their pitter patter nights and green-grey days for some more time…