October heralds a second summer in Mumbai . Shorter, but maybe hotter (or at least, it feels so). Already the deliciously cool, wet days of the monsoon season are a mere memory. And, as the days start trudging from unbearably humid and hot to skin-cracklingly sizzling, I wish that if we had to be gifted a repetition of a season the same year, it would be the monsoon which re-visits us. Definitely NOT Summer!
Every so often my non-tropical garden friends ask me why I get so deliriously ecstatic over the monsoons. I'm at a loss to pick just one reason .
I love it for the heavenly scent of Michaellia champaca that lures and trails me as I walk in my garden in the evening. It even wafts indoors and crooks a perfumed finger at me. And I put everything else aside and follow, losing myself in its heady scent.
... For the unexpected beauty that nudges me out of everyday chores, waiting to surprise me at every turn.
What used to be a very pedestrian driveway gets transformed into a beautiful swift-flowing, cool stream, complete with an offering to the river goddess...
... and dozens of little 'waterfalls' and 'rapids' that fire the imagination and create little adventurers of those brave enough to risk a slip and slide.
There goes all my beautiful garden soil rushing along downstream ... sigh! ... but the sheer fun of seeing a stream come alive in my garden is worth every grain of it. I love the character it adds to my garden space!
... For the hundreds of wild curcumas and gazillions of maidenhair fern that sprout on cue all over the place.
I love these plants! Curcumas in every shade of lilac and mauve and rich, deep dark purple and feathery Maidenhair ferns so delicately, exquisitely beautiful. I really miss them when they disappear soon after the monsoons. For me, they are the link my garden shares with the great mountain chain of the Western Ghats and its rich biodiversity. One tiny little outpost on the furthest tip. I can live with that!
... For all those lovely fruits that decide to start yielding now, including the passionfruits blushing among the curry leaves. (I've heard of "currying favour" but "currying passion"? ... that's a new one!).
... For the cool, misty and windy days that morph simple photographs into a blur of poetic colour. I love the fresh-washed green that is a regular backdrop for all the photos taken in this season. And I love how the monsoon light makes the reds sizzle in my garden photos (now you know why I surround myself with so many red anthuriums).
... For the myriad vibrantly colourful, totally unusual creatures that show up now.
Even before I finish marvelling at one, I spot another not too far away.
And another ...
Isn't this tiny Tortoise Beetle the cutest thing you've ever seen? All gleaming gold and tiny pattering feet with its own clear space bubble. Cute!
... For the mossy look that cloaks everything.
Soft, cushiony moss, lending an air of woodland groves, envelops every surface. From bricks on the pathways to the bark on the trees . Cushiony, that's the word, not slippery.
I wonder if there's any way I could get a soft moss bed to sleep on? Just looking at it makes me feel like lying down on it.
.... For the air of supreme fertility everywhere. This anthurium on the right is so ready to pop !
... For the air of supreme fertility.
Oh, did I say that already? What else would one think on spotting the red ginger (Alpinia purpurata) sprouting even as it blooms?
... For all the little babies that show up now.
Monsoon is when my orchids go into baby over-drive. There are little keikis forming on almost every cane of the mature dendrobiums.
It is also the season when my outdoor-grown orchids start fleshing out again after being cooked and dehydrated in our roasting Mumbai summer. Did I tell you that I never pamper my orchids? They actually seem to prefer it that way!
... For the days when it rains and rains and rains. Until it seems as if my world has shrunk into a little cocoon and I'm dreamily snug in my little verandah, blissfully gazing out at my thoughts ... a little world within my world.
Just a few reasons. Not all, but just enough to detail my karmic connection with the monsoon. And now it looks like we're done for this year, so it's time to tuck these memories away. To be dipped into every time I need a serenity fix or a taste of what the next monsoon will do.
Because now it's time for Butterflies
... and Dragonflies
... and Orchids!