Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring in the City

Palash tree in Salt Lake It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens (Great Expectations).

That may have been true in London, but here in Kolkata, March is not yet halfway through and the summer has already arrived in the sunlight and in the shade too. We call this spring.

Considering the fact that we live in an era of increasing global warming, the winter was unusually persistent this year. Over the last one month, several times it seemed as if the cold was gone for good, but each time it returned with a vengeance, assisted by a fresh spell of rain. This winter Kolkata saw its coldest day in the first week of February, a rare occurrence indeed. But when finally the cold went, the heat was surprisingly quick to follow.

Palash flowers in Salt Lake The wind has changed direction. The leaves have started dropping off the trees. The cuckoos are going berserk. These are a few signs of spring that one can see and hear in the concrete jungle. And yes, flowers! Flowers of all hues, sizes and shapes have covered almost every plant and tree in sight. The accompanying photograph was taken in my colony in Salt Lake - the tree is Palash (Butea monosperma). Both the tree and the ground underneath are covered with the flaming orange flowers. Similarly various other trees are covered by shades of red, blue, violet and yellow. The seasonal flowering plants like dahliyas, zenias, salvias, poppies, pansies and chrysanthemums are blowing out their last flowers. There are bees, damselflies and butterflies everywhere (in fact quite a few wasps and mosquitoes too at my house). The mango trees are covered in tiny blossoms, with mustard-sized mangoes just beginning to show. If you go and stand under one of these mango trees, you will be showered continuously with a fine drizzle of flower particles and mango nectar. The early morning air is slightly cooler, which causes drops of dew to cover the blades of grass which glow like jewels as they catch the first rays of the sun.

Butterfly and dewdrops

The sun is, however, ignoring all these signs of spring. The days are already obscenely hot with hot winds blowing. Very soon, the seasonal blossoms will dry up as dust storms arrive with the first sprinkles of rain. And even after that, even after summer has completely arrived in Kolkata, the cuckoos will continue their frenzied calls throughout the day, as if it were still spring.

1 comment:

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