February 21, 2014

Nature's show-and-tell

It was just another nature awareness class* when the children were to do a show-and-tell session. The previous week, Kobita and I did a session where we showed them a rain stick, ladels made of calabash from West Africa, some simple musical instruments made of bamboo, and a dazzling geode from Aurangabad.

That day, the children brought interesting objects to show us, and had just begun talking about them when we heard some commotion and a squealing sound on the trees above. We looked up and saw that a light brown-grey medium-sized bird of prey had caught a squirrel and was in the process of making a meal out of it. It looked like a shikra (left). The squirrel squealed for a while and then stopped. Some of the children were horrified but we told them that it was the law of nature that small creatures are predated upon by the larger ones, and that they didn't need to feel sorry for the squirrel!

The shikra sat on the branches and began enjoying its meal throughout the duration of the class. The next batch of children from the other section arrived. We then told them what had happened, and showed them the shikra sitting on the tree. The children became very excited and we discussed this incident for a while. Then the class began, and a little while later, we heard a swooshing sound from the tree. We looked up and this time we saw a kite (a larger bird compared with the shikra) swoop down and chase the shikra away. It then snatched the squirrel, and flew away!

In a little while, three crows came and pecked at the remains of the squirrel on the branch!

It was truly nature's show-and-tell class!


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* Kobita and I do a gardening-nature awareness-traditional games class once a week in Vidyaranya High School. 
Images are from the internet.





February 07, 2014

Two things about the garden

Cordia's gift

I realise the last three posts have been about gardens! But there is something I want to record here. I have had the tree called Cordia sebestena since I laid out the garden in 2009. The tree was in bloom every single day of its life. I lost it last summer...first it shed its leaves and there were only blooms, and then it stopped blooming and just dried up. I can't figure out why.

Then, once summer was over, I started looking for another Cordia, but except for one nursery that had an almost full grown tree (unusually without flowers), I could not get a sapling anywhere, which disappointed me. I was waiting for the yearly Horticulture mela when I spotted, in one of the pots, a gift from the Cordia tree to me...two healthy saplings, ready to be transplanted!

Who says trees don't show affection?

The tree that didn't flower


African tulip trees usually flower when very young. I have seen even 6-month old trees bloom. But mine is more than 4 years old, and there was no sign of any flowers all these years. I gave up and reconciled myself thinking that even if there were no flowers, at least there was some greenery because of this tree. Then I read on the internet that if some cuts were made on the bark and holes made around the tree, the tree was likely to flower. I did that about 4 months back. The other day I told Vijay that maybe I would plant a flowering creeper and make it go up the tulip tree.

And then I saw them...the buds! Yes, without any doubt, there they were!

I wish fulfilled.   I know that my life will now be filled with bright orange! 

Who says trees don't get jealous?! 

(I won't post a photo of the precious buds because I am superstitious!)  

An apology to Africans

We have had a professional connect with Africa for a long time. While at ICRISAT during the eighties, we met and were friends with sever...