“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”
― Ernest Hemingway,
It was just yesterday that I was clearing all the New Year and Vishu wishes from my phone and I see that it’s already October. Autumn or Fall as they rightly address it in the West, is finally here. My favourite hue of green is getting splashed with tiny hints of yellow and pink. The leaves are dropping one after another. The grass stops growing altogether. A walk early in the misty morning shows you the true essence of the season. With every single step that you take there’s a crunch and a rustle from beneath your feet. ‘Let it Go‘ they scream in unison. Let it die. All that you don’t need anymore. All that you don’t have to care for anymore. Let them all go. Shed all your inhibitions and be ready to accept newer and bigger challenges.
A sense of sadness and departure. But also a sense of ‘collectiveness’ and ‘correctiveness’. As if to tell you to start it all over again with a clean slate. The winds take the leaves and the seeds with them. Scatter them across, abroad and beyond. Soon the green carpet will turn into a golden envelope. Sooner the old will pave way for the new. Soonest the city will change from summer cottons to winter wools. Nature has so much to tell us, so much to teach us…if only we bother to slow down, take a deep breath and pause.
The tree of life that I admire from my window sill is always an abundance of life. Leaves, fruits, branches, birds, squirrels, butterflies, nests. She stands tall and happens to be one of my favourite photography subjects. Above is a picture of it that I clicked demonstrating it as a bonsai growing out of the bird bath. This was clicked during last spring. Today as I sit here on the window sill searching for my bird friends, I noticed the increasing yellows and the pinks. It’s time. It’s time to bid adieu. It’s time to let go. The leaves are slowly dying. One after the other. And it’s painful to see them falling off. I wonder how the tree would be feeling watching them shed off like that. Soon she will have no leaves. But does that make her lonely? No. She will still be the favourite hangout for the birds, the bees, the butterflies and the squirrels.
A part of me is upset watching the tree shed its leaves. But a part of me also rejoices at the clear view that I’ll soon get of the temporary and permanent residents of the tree. The winter migratory birds that’ll stop over on their way to the various bird sanctuaries. I still remember the Grey Hornbill that I caught last winter.
Her long slender branches will be like arms stretched up in prayer. A prayer which will soon be granted. And she will be brimming with life once again. New leaves. New fruits. New birds. New nests.
She is a roosting center for birds irrespective of their sizes and species. From sparrows, pigeons, crows, rose-ringed parakeets, red-vented bulbuls, sunbirds, doves to the birds of prey like the Black Kite and the Shikra.
This Independence Day there was a surge in the number of children and adults in our locality who enjoyed flying kites of all kinds. One of them, a plastic printed one has gotten stuck on the tree of life. My only worry is about the harm it can be to unsuspecting birds who might get trapped on the ‘manjhaa‘ (the abrasive string used to fly kites). For now all I do sitting here is send up a silent prayer to ensure that none of them get stuck up there and are able to escape into the vast skies unhurt, only to come back again and again.