Summer slips away

Summer slips away

With clouds blanketing the valley below, with spectacular lightning and thunder shows, with rain and hail….Nature seems to have arranged for a fitting farewell to Summer this year.


The green undergrowth is sprouting through the brown pine carpet, familiar plants are emerging at their designated spots…the pitcher plant comes first, followed by this “Snake plant”. I love watching the striated cylinder emerging from the ground, and slowly unfurling every passing day to become a garland of leaves.


Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes, and all suspected poisonous, peep out of the ground after a night of thunder and lightning. Local folk lore has it all sorted out–the lightning makes the mushroom pods jump out of their skins/ground and emerge into the air!


The dead and decaying pine trees in the forest have been crashing down in the storm. A huge tree fell on the cowshed next door. Its branches forked down into the mud, flanking  the ruminating buffalo, and she didn’t get a scratch. Of course, we had some heart-lurching moments when Prema and her family clambered around the wreckage, wondering if there are corpses beneath. Never has the buffalo mooing been so reassuring.

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I have spent a arm-breaking day, digging and clearing the soil to plant the annual two trees which honour my mother . She was born in the monsoon rains, named Barsha, and was, in many ways, like a hardy beautiful tree. Today, while I was toiling up the slope with bags of rocky soil, to be sieved and treated, she was walking beside me. Memories of her busy days, in those times of few appliances and  conveniences,  scoffed my aching shoulders and pushed me to dig some more. After all, trees in my mother’s name need to be planted deep and strong!

This year, its the “kafal” tree which comes to our forest. Beloved of  hill folk, monkeys and yearning goats….bewildering to me and other newcomers to the mountains, the kafal fruit is one huge seed with a scanty covering. Only those people who can swallow the whole fruit, with the accompanying seasoning of “Pisi Nud” ( salt ground with chillies and garlic and other condiments ) are true hill folk.

Me?! ….foreigner…still.

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