Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's a full moon night and the air is pleasant. It's a beautiful night after so many muggy days and nights and then two evenings of rain. I sit here at my desk and I can hear rustling in the undergrowth outside the window--stray night creatures doing their night rounds.
Full moon nights always make me long to take a sleeping bag and go lie under the moon. But it isn't safe enough to do that. Too bad.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I love the morning sunshine in 'winter' when the sun is in the south. There is a softness to the light, the light filtering through the trees at a gentle angle. Our noon day sun is still hot, but watching from a shaded verandah, the light is still beautiful.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's been a while since I went for a walk after dark. I was able to make it this evening, as for one, my daughter and her children have gone to her in-laws' place and then--after quite a while--it wasn't raining.
A half moon was visible, bright in the darkening sky. I could hear a rather small frog chorus and a few crickets had started their evening performance, it only just turning dark. Somehow I couldn't get the perfumes of the flowers, except maybe that of the frangipani.
But then, in a trice, just when I thought that the night was so beautifully clear, clouds appeared oh so suddenly, first wispy and then thicker, so that the moon looked like she was shining behind a thin pink curtain. It got warm. Maybe it will rain later tonight.
Now as I sit at my computer, by the window, I can get the scent of flowers, thought I don't know what they are.
A quiet evening.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I t was a full-moon night last night and I did go for a night walk. The moonlight was beautifully bright. But
1) I did not have my own dog with me (neighbour doggie friend was there though)
2) My heavily pregnant daughter was walking with me
3) It's been raining pretty heavily the last so many days.

all the above made me worry more than usual about possible creepie crawlies and so didn't linger too long outside!

Friday, August 21, 2009

'And the leaves that are green turn to brown'

Where I am in the US is a suburb of Chicago, with quiet tree-lined streets and 2 small parks, both at a walkable distance. I have enjoyed walking through the streets and in the parks. As it's summer, the houses I pass, as also the parks are full of flowers, laid out so beautifully. I see the local squirrels and like all other Indians are astonished at their size because what we, who live near towns and cities in India, call squirrels are more like chipmunks.
That was written early during my trip here. Now it's time for me to leave--tomorrow. Labor Day is over, the official signalling of the end of summer. The outdoor pool here at the apartment is closed from today (summer's over!). Though Labor Day was warm and bright, Fall is in the air. The trees outside on this street are slowly getting dressed in their fall colours--these are golden. I have already passed a beautifully red tree, somewhere in town and others turn to rust.
Autumn is a time of nostalgia I am told. So it must be fall that fills my heart--at the thought of leaving my new little granddaughter and son and wife, at the thought of the end of my holiday--a complete detach from my everyday life, at the thought too that soon all this greenery and flowers will be gone (an idea so incomprehensible to me, who comes from a sub-equatorial place!).
But then every season has it's beauty and maybe I will get to see the beauty of fall and of winter one day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Post 2.

This is one of my tree friends in my front yard, (which was my cathedral this morning).
This morning, on it I saw 3 barbets, a pair of tree pies, a pair of racket-tail drongos

and an energetic woodpecker!

Post 1

The rains have abated for the last couple of days and the weather is beautiful.
Now, I don't know whether it's because there is no rain or some other reason, but our Asian palm civets seem to be in a fighting mood. So, for the last couple of nights, our evenings have been punctuated by the sounds of creatures [hopefully its just the civets and not supernatural beings :-)] thundering across our ceilings, after which there are the sounds of violent jumps onto nearby trees and the sounds of angry screeching, the sound of which is a cross between a cat fight and a human screech! When I turn on the lights outside, there is dead silence. Wonder whether they are fighting over the fruits of my rambutan tree.

Monday, July 20, 2009

There's a break in the monsoon although in our Malayalam(Kerala) calendar, this is the month when the monsoon is supposed to be the strongest. The day the month began--17th of July--it poured. So this break was unexpected. So I got to go for a walk.
The evening was warm, as there had been no rain the whole day today. The fireflies were out, especially in the dark of the rubber trees and in the tree over the jasmine creeper. The stars lay hidden behind the clouds. I heard, from a distance, the sound of the Ramayanam being read [this is the month when the Ramayanam is read everyday]. A gentle zephyr played with the leaves way overhead. As always, I love my night walks and the night.
Just now, I sit at my desk and I can hear the hoot of an owl, the crickets chirping and the frog chorus. I feel truly blessed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

First night walk, July

Today there is a break in the monsoons. It didn't rain the whole day and not now in the night either. So I was able to take the first longish night walk this month.
It was beautiful out. The sky was full of stars. There were only a few scattered clouds. I walked out and saw, high up in the southern sky, the constellation of Scorpio. I wished I knew the names of more constellations. The air was balmy, with a just a light, caressing breeze.
The darkness of the trees were lit up by fireflies. I saw the silhouettes of the large fruit bats flying overhead. The frogs serenaded me. I heard the screeches of the Palm civet. There were the occasional sounds of crickets.
A peaceful night in my green oasis.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My fellow worshippers

I was at a church service this morning. This church is surrounded by a rubber plantation. The church is not very big, but there is a broad verandah running all around the church, where too people stand during Sunday service. I'm a verandah regular and so I get to be kind of outdoors as much as a part of the service.
This morning there were a large number of disparate voices added to the chants and singing of the congregation. The singing got loudest when the church bells were being rung during the service, till I just had to look out at the trees to note who our fellow worshippers were.

There were a pair of drongos--

one, maybe two, racket-tailed drongos
two brown-headed barbets

a flock of mynahs squabbling among themselves and quarrelling with a squirrel who had the temerity to wander among them--

and a brown turtle-dove like bird which I can't get the image of (since I'm not too sure what it is).
As you can imagine, the music of these feathered worshippers ranged from beautiful (the racket-tails) to harsh (the mynahs). The racket-tails especially sang loud and long every time the bells rang!
During the sermon I sat on the verandah steps and watched the bird chorus.
I promise I heard the sermon--it was about living a simple life :-)

NB All images from Creative Commons on Wikipedia

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crow Pheasant

This picture is just to give you an idea of the crow pheasant that I caught on video in the dense undergrowth outside my window.(It's the rainy season and jungle has almost reclaimed the land!)

Here's the video

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I love the bucolic scene I pass everyday on my way between schools. There is a wide expanse of no-longer-farmed rice fields full of wild greenery. When I pass that way at around 9 a.m, there are a number of cows out in the fields accompanied by different varieties of birds. Sometimes there are mynahs sitting on their backs, at other times there are drongos and always a small white stork standing around. At that time of the morning, there is usually a kingfisher sitting patiently on a branch over looking the water. I'm always tempted to stay awhile. i have tried many a time to take a photograph, but somehow--maybe the photographer, maybe the camera--I have never been able to get a picture that quite conveys the restfulness of the scene.
What makes the scene even more precious is that I'm sure that the scenery will no longer be there a few years down the line.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday night--I go outside. Canine neighbour comes to play. There's pale watery moonshine. The frogs and crickets chorus; fireflies make patterns in the foliage. I see white cotton wool clouds sailing swiftly overhead, pushed by dark grey, and soon all that's visible of the moon is a faint glow. The darkness is deep. I know my dog friend is coming only by the white patch on his chest and his four white paws. I think it's prudent to move back inside.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The monsoons seem to have started in earnest and brought down the temperature quite a few notches. I miss the moonlight, but it's pleasant to sit in my room and be serenaded by a chorus of a wide variety of frog calls and the chirping of crickets. Very relaxing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

After coming back home, I have been for a couple of night walks, one just now.  The moonlight is so bright--although the monsoon is supposed have begun!  It was beautiful out, although there was no real breeze, with the fireflies out and the scent of the night flowers wafting around me.
But,.... I so missed my dog.  This is the first time in almost 22 years that I don't have a dog.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This evening I went for one of my walks after dark-- a short leisurely walk-- at the insistence of my Dobe. She kept at me till I laced up my shoes and went outside. It had rained earlier in the day and so the temperature outside was a little more pleasant than inside the house. The moon had not come up yet. A carpet of jasmine flowers lying at the foot of the climbing jasmine over in my brother-in-law's garden gave off a sweet scent. All the plants look so rejuvenated after a shower. Maybe I'll go out again later after the moon has come up.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A cityscape night walk

I walked around my daughter's apartment complex in South city, in lieu of my regular night walks here at home.
Though warm, there is a strong breeze blowing at different directions of my walk. The warm air is occasionally scented by the white flowers growing in the window boxes of the apartment complex. Unfortunately the breeze carries with it occasional whiffs of the famous Cooum river (not nice at all)! What I see overhead is the heat haze lit up my the city lights, through which I see one star bravely trying to make it's presence felt. I hear the constant drone of planes overhead flying fairly low on their paths to and from the nearby airport and the occasional sound of a commuter train passing on their struts that lie just near the apartment. I see a bird confused by the light, coming in to catch a few insects attracted by the fluroscent lights.
But all the same the breeze blows away the cobwebs of my mind and I go back inside, the lighter for it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Last night when I went for my walk, I realised it is warm night air that holds scents. Last night was a relatively clear night and therefor warm and the perfumes of the night flowers were heavy near each tree, seeming to pool on the ground at the foot of the trees, in the flower carpets beneath each tree.
Late last week, when there was a rain shower almost every evening, it was extremely pleasant walking outside, the air light and gentle on my skin, a cool breeze blowing, the sky lit up occasionally by distant lightning. But I missed the scented breezes. It was as though the light air had carried away the scents.
So now it's a toss up between wanting a shower to ease the heat, and wanting a warm night to smell the smells that spice up my walk.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Flower carpet.

The above shows the carpet of mahogany flowers in my backyard.

Here you can see 3 of the little flowers. I put the safety pin there so one could get an idea of how small the flowers are. But what a scent!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The mahogany flowers are everywhere in my backyard.  They have fallen in their thousands I think.  A few days back, in the back yard, was a carpet of the small, pale-green, star-shaped flowers and the scent so overpowering, more so at dusk.  Now they have all faded.  They blend perfectly into the ground looking almost like very tiny pebbles and they crunch under my foot.  A few still drift down.  But the scent is gone. 
I tried to take a picture of the carpet, but it just didn't turn out, because, unless you knew what my backyard was normally, you wouldn't be able to make out the carpet.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Night walks

It's warm and oh so humid. Grey and white clouds sail slowly and ponderously over the moon. The air is so heavy, I can almost see it. Even the crickets song lack the usual zing, sounding indolent with the heat. The night is full of varied scents; the scent of the white champak flowers, of the white lilies, the sweet-spicy scent of drying mahogany flowers, mingled with the smell of drying rubber sheets, with the occasional whiff of jasmines. The still air holds each scent lovingly close, so much that I almost wish I could escape this olfactory assault.
There is not one night bird's cry. But a huge fruit bat wings it's way over head. I can just make out the Great Bear constellation through the wispy clouds. Way up above I see the flashing red lights and then hear the drone of a plane. The waning moon is finally free of the cloud blanket and shines down, but today the moonlight only adds to the mugginess.
But my heart is light after my night walk.
Note: The moon is waxing (earlier post too). My mistake.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Late night

Last night I went to bed after 1 a.m. and so saw a blushing Mr. Moon (he's waning and so just half his size), peeping in at the window. Makes me want to go on an late night/early morning road trip.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mahogany in bloom.

It's a hot, muggy April evening. I sit on the verandah waiting for dusk to cool the day. The scent of the mahogany blooms is all around me, enveloping me, overwhelming me with it's headiness.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I sit on the verandah in the afternoon heat--it's 3 p.m. and I'm sitting in such a way that I catch the westerly breeze.
Afternoon sounds are all around. I nod over my book. I'm tempted to sit in the rocking chair and shut my eyes. But I stay where I am, sitting up groggily now & then. I want to see what bird life I can get to see, if I am quiet. I'm rewarded.
I see a pair of magpie robins and one of them has a quick dip in a puddle left by the previous day's showers. I see a treepie come to drink water.
Then there are the usual raucous crowd of crows to bathe and talk. A small sunbird flits in the divi-divi foliage above my head.
Away from the bird pool I get to see a green barbet, with his brilliant green plumage and I spot the silhouette of a woodpecker.
A lovely lazy, bird-watching afternoon!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lucky me

I know I am so lucky to be able to live and work amongst so much greenery and to see the kind of bird life and wildlife that I do see--that too in the middle of a town. I wonder what the world will be like in the time of my grandchildren and whether they will get chances like mine. Maybe this blog will remain in the ether for them to know what it was like!

Two pictures of beauty and interest around me:
These are pigeon orchids on a coconut tree, in my front yard. The original plant was got by my mother-in-law many years back. Later, my youngest brother-in-law and wife came to stay in my parents-in-law's home (by which time they had both passed away) and the orchid plant grew so much, my sister in law was giving away some of it. So now I have them on 2 trees and they have bloomed in profusion this time. They stay only for a day though. They are a lovely reminder of my mother-in-law, who was an avid gardener.

This is the nest of leaf cutter ants. Isn't the nest amazing? Almost like a tepee.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

yellow glory

It's flowering time for one of my favourite trees--the Cassia Fistula. There are trees all over town in full bloom in shades of yellow--one a dark yellow and the other a much paler one.

Here is one of the bright yellow ones taken with my phone.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Slowly, silently, now the moon

Walks the night in her silver shoon;

This way, and that, she peers, and sees

Silver fruit upon silver trees;

One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;

Couched in his kennel, like a log,

With paws of silver sleeps the dog;

From their shadowy coat the white breasts peep

Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;

A harvest mouse goes scampering by,

With silver claws, and silver eye;

And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.
Walter de la Mare

Moonlight is like a magnet for me and I love the waxing moon because her light shines in the early part of the night, when I can walk and enjoy her company. She throws lacy shadows as she shines through my divi-divi tree and makes all the white flowers in the garden glisten. Tonight she shone so bright that even the densest shadows seemed light ; so I turned off the electric light so that I could enjoy her light in all it's splendour. A beautiful walk!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Here's the magpie robin sitting on the champa tree outside of my dining room. If you click here. you'll get to see him having his drink of water and bath, all the time whistling sweetly. I think it's mating time for them. That's when he sings the sweetest song.

"Birds on the tree tops sing their song,
They fill the air with music all day long.
Each flower in the garden sings it too;
So why shouldn't I, why shouldn't you
Praise Him too!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A hot day!

It was a pretty hot day a couple of days back.  So everyone was at the water hole!

First was a magpie robin--


then a chipmunk

and then, towards dusk, crows discussing the day's happenings at the water hole. Each waited their turn to drink and some had a quick bath too.

I'm sorry the chipmunk isn't too clear.  He was way too timid to allow me any nearer

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Afternoon bird song--but recorded with my trusty phone cam!