We’re closed for the summer!
Savista went into its annual summer hibernation around the end of April. For around three months, until mid-July or so when the rains generally arrive in full in this part of India, the sun beats down mercilessly. The green of the grass takes on a faded hue. Many trees lose their leaves. The air turns dry as cinder.
We resident humans adapt to this heat in many ways. Drink plenty of water made fragrant by the earthen pots we store it in…lassi..chilled lemon juice with sugar and salt. Munch on watermelons and cucumbers. Eat mangoes by the dozens. Swim in the early mornings and late evenings.
Feast our eyes on the masses of colour provided by our many flowering trees and shrubs – the brilliant red and orange of the Gulmohur, the yellow and gold of the Laburnum and Tecomia, the purple of the Jacaranda, the pink, red and orange of the bougainvillea. Inhale the fragrance of the crazily blooming Jasmine and Champa which appear in new masses every morning, like white stars against the dark green foliage. Bird watch in the mornings and evenings. And during the hottest hours of the day, lounge in the cool indoors with a good book. This is summer in north India.
Most of Savista’s staff take their long annual vacation during this season. It being the lean season for agriculture,this is when marriages happen across north India and families have their reunions. Even the skeletal staff that keep Savista’s gardens, trees and shrubberies watered and in good shape go missing every now and again because they have to attend marriages in their kin group. Summertime is social time for them.
Above all, it is the season of birds. Our bird population is currently at its peak, and mating and nest building is underway with zest. This time of year is also the season of insects. Logical. The insects eat the fallen leaves. And the birds feast on the insects.
May could probably be called the ‘Month of the Ant’. Unable to bear the heat of the earth where they generally burrow themselves, all the ants of the world come marching out. They can be seen everywhere. Of course, minding their own business, which includes invading any food in sight, cooked or uncooked.
When June comes around, almost by the calendar the air becomes slightly heavier. Humidity levels begin to rise, lots of little clouds start scudding across the sky, and the air is rent by the wail of peacocks adding to the sounds of the lapwings, koels, kingfishers and other warblers. Even as the ants become less visible, crickets come to the fore, making June the ‘Month of the Cricket’. In the evenings, after the birds have quietened down, the chirruping of crickets begins and goes on through the night. To this, the frogs – living in our lily ponds – add their voices.
In July, once the rains begin, the crickets will stay on, but large green and brown striped grasshoppers will take their place at the head of the table.
We may be closed to human guests in the summer. But nature’s guests come uninvited, and make themselves at home!