Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Transitions and deja-vu

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!


  1. The mossy cloak was a joy and reminder of the south-west monsoons. Yes the Champaka must be heavenly.

  2. At first i chose the rain portrait, i love it and don't know how to get that shot. Then when i see that butterfly, no species can surpass its elegance, it might not be too colorful as other butterflies are, but it surely has the elegant above any other. We dont have that here, i suppose, haven't seen one.

  3. It was so refreshing to see this. I loved the tortoise beetle, have never seen them in real life. I would prefer to call them space suit beetles or astronaut beetles.

  4. Shri, isn't that moss beautiful? ... sigh! You won't believe how often I've actually tried to grow it, hoping it will stick around after the monsoon too. Lost cause! But it always comes back next monsoon :)

  5. Andrea, it was just one of those days when the rain and light and my camera were in perfect harmony to make that rain shot :)
    The butterfly is a Blue Mormon and is larger than most of the other butterflies I've seen. I wish the pale blue would show up in the photos, it's a very pretty combination with that black. As far as I know it's found only in India and Sri Lanka.

  6. LOL! THat's a very apt name, Lubna. We can make it its alias, don't you think? It's really cute... very tiny.

  7. Oh you write so beautifully, I can almost feel the dew and rain! Found you via Design Blogger Network on FB, will be coming back again,

  8. What a beautiful post, Sunita. The prose and photos go hand in hand to describe a delightful season. I hope your October isn't too "skin-cracking" hot. You're right. That beetle is too cute!

  9. You make the monsoons seem so warm and appealing. We have been having monsoon like rain but much cooler and we are not used to it or prepared for it. Things are a bit of a mess. What do you do about the mosquitoes?

  10. Hi Sunita; riveting reading about the monsoon and the effect it has on you and your garden. It makes my heart sing when I see and I can imagine your bliss to experience this overdrive of nature. I love the colourful bugs, they are so intriguing. The plants who make the most of the abundance of moisture.
    Really wonderful, Sunita, your words bring everything close and alive.T♥

  11. Gorgeous images, especially the water photos. Those two insects are the prettiest. Colorful and shiny. The monsoon really brings life to the garden.

  12. Hi Kamini! Thanks, and it's so good to see you here :)

    Thank you, Grace :)
    The weather guys now claim that the monsoon hasn't withdrawn after all. Huh! It sure feels like it though. Blistering hot!

  13. Hi Becky :)
    I think one of the reasons why I love the monsoon is because our climate is usually hot and humid. If it were cool / cold I dont think it would've been quite so enjoyable.
    Mosquitos are the biggest downside of the monsoon season :P Not much we can really do about it except keep the surrounding clear of stagnant water, trim some branches so its not so dark and alluring for them to hang around, wear long sleeved clothes when stepping out... the usual.

  14. Thank you, Trudi! :)
    Given your background, I knew you'd understand how much and why I love the monsoon and everything it brings. So lovely to get some respite from the hot weather!

  15. Thanks Donna, I'm kind of partial to those water photos myself. And, yes, I love those bugs too... so unusual and colourful.

  16. "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."- just beautiful!

  17. Thanks, Amy. So glad you liked it :)

  18. Fantastic photos. The moss path with the dry leaf is one of the best.

  19. Love the variety of life you have shared. Some of them are in my garden too.

  20. Thanks, Sanghamitra :)

    I love that mossy path too, Anita. It makes me feel like it leads to some mysterious woodland grove.

    Amila, do you have any idea what that black bug with the gold and purple bands is called?

  21. How beautiful is the black and blue butterfly ! I sometimes espy a butter yellow one in the shrubs growing below my balcony, but for some sad reason, butterflies are scarce in Delhi. Come to think of it,so are dragonflies which were so much a part of my childhood. Where have all the dragonflies in their myriad hues gone ?
    Beautiful blog Sunita. Thank you.

  22. Lovely post and beautiful pics as always Sunita! Enjoyed it :)
    Love 'currying passion'!

  23. Thanks, Usha :)
    I think the yellow butterfly you're talking about must be the Grass Yellow. Check out my butterfly post ( http://the-urban-gardener.blogspot.com/2008/11/garden-tea-party-butterflies-invited.html ) and you'll find a photo.
    Yeah, its a real pity that butterflies and dragonflies are becoming so rare to spot in the cities. A lot of it has to do with lack of green cover and butterfly food for both the larva and the adult. Dragonflies seem to prefer to hang out near ponds and other waterbodies.

  24. Sunita girl I am with you about having a second monsoon season there ! I can't even imagine the scorching heat you have to go through .. the rains breath life into everything there : )
    You asked about my plant .. if it was considered a "weed" .. LOL !
    No it is considered a pretty Autumn blooming garden plant .. it doesn't try to take over the garden like my beloved Stag Horn Sumac (now that one is playing with the word weed a lot !! LOL)
    I try to place dark and light plants together to show each of them in a better contrast, so it works well with Dream Catcher, then my japanese maple, then Goldheart bleeding heart .. now it won't be long before the white stuff will fly and cover my garden .. big sih ! wink wink

  25. Joy, its really blistering right now. Hardly conducive to gardening but there's so much to be done now.
    About your plant, it looked exactly like Ageratum conyzoides (at least that's the name I know it by) to me. Same leaves, same flowers. But if you have it ID-ed as Euphatorium, oh wow! it must be one of those cases of twins separated at birth! :D
    I totally agree with you about the placements. Light and dark do go so well together :)

  26. Sunita I can see why you may have thought this plant was what you considered a weed .. the flower structure is similar .. and in your climate I can understand someplants just run wild .. our winters can controll a lot of pest plants but never dandalions and other weeds ? LOL
    Joy : )

  27. You have a really great Gardening site Sunita.

    When you have the time - check out this gardening related blog post - as I think you may be interested - http://www.comicbookandmoviereviews.com/2011/10/wwwgardeningtipbookscom.html

  28. Just recently started blogging ...your's is facinating... cannot decide who wins the competion...your writing or the photographs.

  29. Thank you, Usha. I must take a look at your blog too.
    And there's absolutely no competition,Usha. I started this blog because I love writing. Along the way I discovered that I love photographing all the things in my garden too. So now I go to garden with secateurs in one hand and camera in the other! :D

  30. Sunita...you are an inspiration. I
    took up blogging after seeing your fab work.

    when time permits visit my first blog : http://look4birds.bogspot.in

    Your advise on how to make it better will be appreciated.


  31. Thank you, Viren. I'll definitely take a look at your blog :)


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