Naming a tree

It was drizzling, and the sky was bleak all over, just like a perfect gray uniform. It’s one of those early February rains… that mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. We were both out on a ‘solitary’ walk.

“What are you up to?” I asked my little friend.

She tilted her umbrella and glanced skyward.

“I’m trying to name the trees,” she said.

My walking partner

My walking partner

The trees along the sidewalk, next to a park, were lined up perfectly, their bark looked a shade darker with rain. I’d passed by those trees thousands of times, without bothering to wonder until that moment what they were called.

I thought of my school days, making EVS projects, trying to learn the names of trees. Those were some days really! But simple enough. How my college trips and excursions and those camping exercises unknowingly brought me closer to nature – taught me to enjoy the aesthetic beauty of the wild and be lost in it.

The one tree she could confidently name, she exclaimed, “Tis a Peepal tree!”

I nodded in approval. It’s an old Peepal tree – the symbol of enlightenment and peace. “Lord Buddha attained enlightenment meditating under the Peepal tree,” I told her.

She likes to draw I know, and her drawing book is full of gulmohar, the banyan and the peepal, which she paints and decorates in her own style.

It stopped drizzling, and we closed our umbrellas. Pointing at one of the big trees, she asked me, “What are these trees?”

I couldn’t recall the name. I cursed my memory. “Not sure… come let’s go, will find out later. I need to rush back home and drop you on the way,” I said in a huff.

It’s another working day. Another day when the world is brimming with news of the terrible things people do to each other.

I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back innocently. What better day to stand in the open air and calmly discuss trees?

The older I get, the more I realize how many details of the natural world I’ve ignored in my rush to get from here to there, and how wonderful things are when I do see them.

Names of the trees, sounds of the drizzle, colour of the sky… huh, who has time for such questions in the rush of daily life. After all there’s so much to do: the shopping, the spending, the partying, the parking… and above all, racing in a world that loves to rush.

As we moved along, I looked up in the sky. The Sun was still hiding behind several shades of gray, too lazy to wake up this morning. The birds have begun to chirp signaling a brighter day ahead. In college, how I fought for nature, against its degradation, and for its protection. As I thought of how my eco-friendly activism vanished over the years, a sense of guilt surrounded me. I was lost in some thoughts…

She shook me from my trance. We’ve reached her home.

“Bye, see you tomorrow, same time,” said my little friend – my walking partner as she waved at me and moved inside.

I felt numb as I walked – all alone. I could see a bed of yellow flowers blooming in the neighbouring garden. Not sure of their names but I realized spring is not far away. I tried to recall William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. Oh how I loved the poem in school! It’s not just a beautiful picture of nature, but the power of nature in healing mankind. I remembered the verses without much effort.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I stood blank for a while…and all of a sudden, remembered the final verse.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodils not only mark winter’s end but denotes prosperity, they say in England. Those yellow flowers also filled my heart with joy and abundance.

My little friend refreshed my childhood memories… I felt blessed. With winter on my ‘head’ and spring in my ‘heart,’ I moved ahead in a new vigour!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by H S Eswara on December 27, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    My dear Sohini,

    New Year’s Best Wishes.

    ‘Naming a Tree’ is one more lovely writing. It took me back to my childhood days. I spent my first fifteen years in environment rich Tirthahalli, which was only next to your Manipal. Maybe, you have gone there via Agumbe Ghats. Agumbe was once known for its heavy rains, only next to Chirapungi. The thick forests and the flora and the fauna of the region provided an ambiance that I cherish even to this day. But in my own life time we have lost all that treasure.

    Your reference to Daffodils made me to go back to Wordsworth and enjoy the poetry once more. Your knowledge of English poetry makes me sometimes envious. Keep reading and writing. With best wishes,

    Affectionately,
    HS Eswara

    Reply

    • Posted by Sohini Bagchi on December 27, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      Dear Sir,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. You are so lucky to have stayed in places surrounded by so much natural beauty and greenery. Yes, I’ve been to some of those places and really cherished the experience. Dakshina Kannada has a pristine beauty and rich heritage and is one of my favourite places of visit any time. Thanks so much for your inspiration once again.
      Warm regards,
      Sohini

      Reply

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