Friday, June 29, 2012

The Shape Of Things To Come

The time between spring and summer is a very fluid one, with life emerging from the most unexpected spaces and growing in unpredictable directions.  We have exciting plans in mind but nature always seems to by pass our design and move along a path of its own.  This is never more evident than when I return from my summer breaks to find my house and garden in a very different state from the one I left it in.

I have been fairly non-interfering the last year in my garden - spending time only to weed and add a variety of natural manures to strengthen the plants.  There seemed to be a flurry of visiting earthworms in my bathroom, which I transferred to the flowerpots.  I also added an old stone urn to serve as a bird bath which the monkeys couldn't destroy.  This was unfrequented for the first six months as I diligently filled it everyday, splashing water around to attract the attention of neighbourhood birds.

Despite the late (and still pending) rains and my long absence, I seem to have lost only one plant.  Dried up creepers have suddenly soared upto the sky, (ignoring my bits of supporting twine) and burst into bright pink flowers and buds.  The frangipani seems taller than ever.

A pair of bulbuls have suddenly appeared in the sandalwood tree in front of my garden, I hear their shrill calls occasionally and see them bursting out of the tree with little bits of straw.  They are nesting close by but I don't know where.  They come occasionally to my bedroom window sill to pick up bits of leaves that blow on to the ledge.  A strange rectangular formation, like a dried up brownie nestles in a corner of the window.  I dig a little bit into it.  It is a discarded nest of some sort, fortunately I can clear this away.  

What I cannot clear away is a gigantic wasp-nest solidly lodged in the adjacent window.  I remember the time it began, in late spring.  It looked like a small inverted earthen container in the shape of a weaver bird's nest, with a solitary wasp flying to and fro from it.  "How sweet," I thought, "Now I have an opportunity to watch baby wasps emerging from this.  Perhaps two or three of them."  This just shows my abysmal ignorance of the insect world!  In just a few months, it has grown exponentially, and is now a giant apartment structure (with multiple entrances) for a whole colony of wasps.  Watching these creatures, I now understand why we use phrases like 'abuzz with excitement' and 'buzzing with activity'.  They don't seem to mind my presence and I am reluctantly getting accustomed to theirs (as long as we are separated by a wire mesh)!

My bird bath is now frequented by a pair of very timid koels (cuckoos) and by a raucous raven who I dislike because it seems to think it can eat and drink at the same time.  It perches at the edge of the bird bath, picks out dismembered animals and dips them into the water before popping them into its mouth along with some liquid.  A most disgusting ritual and one I plan to discourage now that I am back.  I also see lots of bees, they don't seem to mind me as I come to clean and refill the bath.  They just fly around my hand and wait for me to leave.  Inevitably one bee slips and falls into the bath and has to be rescued.  Rescuing bees at periodic intervals has become another part of my garden routine.  Perhaps they are intoxicated by the fizzy water (inevitable after the raven has had his share and added new microbes).  Yes!  I feel strongly that this bird is masculine!

The lemons (which were tiny little buds in spring) are ripening and will be most welcome, as fresh lemons have vanished from the market.  The karipatta (curry leaf) - a painfully slow growing creature has put forth new fronds, flowered and fruited and looks most respectable now.

My bryophyllum seems to have twenty four flowering buds on it (instead of the usual four), it is hard to imagine that on the coming full moon night, they will transform into large, scented white flowers, bending the sturdy leaves over with their weight.

 This is the shape of things in my garden as we settle ourselves and wait for those gathering clouds to burst.

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