Chasing the magic of monsoon
Having access to places where we can walk, slip and slide, as the monsoon carves out streams, waterfalls and ponds, should be the beginning of finding ourselves.
At the bottom of my bamboo plant, a bright yellow knob grew outwards. It was a mushroom, the colour of a buttercup. It was like the soil was smiling. In June, I went up to the Himalayas. Slopes were lush with ferns, asters and daisies. Little, emerald-green knobs, the new fronds of ferns poked their heads out, like deer raising their heads through the forest. My guide pointed at them and told me that in local mountain wisdom, the new fronds meant that the rains are coming.
A week later, the first showers came. It is always a special thing to see all that the rains bring. More mushrooms in damp soil, some with frills underneath their caps. Seedlings pushing forth, desperate for life. Birds nest and raise their chicks even as it pours. There is life everywhere, even stones get covered in the velvet carpet of mosses, or thin, insubstantial slime.
I often feel we dismiss the seasons as hot/cold/rainy, and the rain begins to grate on us because it disrupts the arteries of our daily commute. Our cities never seem prepared enough for rain. It’s like planners have a resentment for any kind of disruption, and ever so often, that resentment trickles down to us. And though we want to curl up in dry, clean beds, I’d like to suggest that the monsoon is the time to be fully offline. And outside.
In our forests and wilderness areas, bioluminescent mosses are shining. Mushrooms are growing in vivid, candy colours. In the little pools of water inside flowers and leaves, a bird may stop by for a sip. The males of Indian bullfrogs have turned a bright yellow to find mates, and their calls are resounding night music. Take a walk in the mud, even if it dirties your clothes.
Take a mango you have sucked and plant the pit in the soil, and watch it become a plant in a week. The monsoon is also the time for the ephemeral—in a few short weeks, the mushrooms will disappear, stones will lose their moss covers, and the rate of growth of plants will be stemmed.
Yet, there is so much to enjoy now, even as we curse the traffic. It is hot and unbearably sultry, yet many forms of life cherish this suspended moisture in the air. There is a rhythm in learning to enjoy nature’s discomforts, and I feel spending time in heat and moisture is building an armour of resilience and joy.
Last week, after a tiring day of work, I glimpsed a sunset. The sky was purple, almost like it had been bruised. It was an unusual colour, but then monsoon skies are always unusual—veritable frescoes of fine art. My phone buzzed. In another city, a friend had sighted a rainbow. After a long day ruined by a desperate, rainy urban commute, it was the magic she needed. For the rest of us, having access to places where we can walk, slip and slide in as the monsoon carves out streams, waterfalls and ponds should be the beginning of finding ourselves. Even on the hottest days of the year.
Conservation biologist and author