"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

trees

Root And Branch

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Picture taken in the arboretum, Ooty Botanical Gardens


Almost Autumnal

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We don’t have autumn in Kerala.
Individual trees seem to decide for themselves when they wish to shed their leaves.

Picture taken in Fort Cochin


Autumnal Variations

There is, of course, no autumn in the tropics,
nor spring, nor winter too.

Here on the Malabar coast, our temperatures vary very little between January and July.
What marks Kerala’s tropical seasons are the monsoon rains.

But deciduous trees must still drop their leaves.
They may fall individually, while the tree remains dressed in full and lustrous foliage.
Or occasionally, a tree will capriciously display its entire autumn wardrobe,
to stand alone in wistful copper tones, against the sea of vibrant greens.

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Photographs all taken in Kerala: the first two pictures shot in the Koottickal foothills of the Western Ghats; the last, a discarded coconut palm “leaf skeleton”, from the Chellanam backwaters.


Cannon Fodder

Blossoms of the Cannon-ball tree in Kalady, Kerala
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New Every Morning

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Picture taken in the Seminary chapel gardens, Fort Cochin.


Smokescreened

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The road-side burning of leaves and rubbish at times creates swirling, white curtains of damasked smoke.

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Through which cyclists and walkers pass

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Beneath the Rain Trees’ ancient boughs.

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Ombra mai fu

 

Tender and beautiful fronds

of my beloved plane tree,

let Fate smile upon you.

May thunder, lightning, and storms

never bother your dear peace,

nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

 

A shade there never was,

of any plant,

dearer and more lovely,

or more sweet.


From Handel’s “Serse

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Night Of Wrath

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“..and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.”

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Rain Trees And Sun

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While the monsoon continues, day-break brings new road-blocks.

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The local Rain Trees regularly shed their sodden boughs.

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To balance this annual attrition, new roadside trees are planted.

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But for now, blue skies promise – and deliver – a day of sunshine.

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Monsoon Surgery

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In my small yard, stands an out-house and a few trees.

Monsoon rains have damaged a large branch next to the pomegranate tree.

My man Shaji makes the initial diagnosis. Urgent tree surgery is required.

Sebastian, the carpenter, is called.

He does not bring a saw: Sebastian prefers hammer and chisel.

His surgical assistant is in attendance;

As is Shaji;

And Shaji’s wife, Dalila.

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Soon the damaged branch has been neatly excised.

A post-operative audit is undertaken:

Pomegranates inspected;

The check-up completed;

Circulation to the out-house has been successfully restored.

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Enjoying their Bounty

The word Kerala means “Land of the Coconut”

Coconut palms grow along our coast

 

The backwaters

 

And even cast their shadows in the city.

 

In the cooler climes of Europe, coconut palms have always appeared exotic:

“The Taste of Paradise”

Here in India, advertisements for coconut are instead for grooming products.

Coconuts require regular harvesting if you are to avoid head injuries.

 

A coconut palm grows in my front yard.

It is remarkably fecund, producing well over two hundred coconuts a year.

Through the rumblings of our May-time thunder storms, I often hear loud resonating thumps:

The sound of coconuts tumbling to the ground.

On opening the front doors yesterday Sumant, my houseboy, found several newly fallen coconuts.

A little later Dalila, the cook, arrived.

She took the coconuts through to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.

Then promptly returned to announce:

“Sir, We have produced twins!”