It was end of June, the south west monsoon had already started. There were a couple of good rains, but these were spread out, over the entire month. With parched soil, and blazing sun, not much water was left for the plants and trees.
The leaves on the tulsi plants (Basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum, துளசி) are reduced in size, but they are more potent and flavourful. A wonderful medicinal plant, that flourishes on its own.
Near the base of a coconut tree, a kovai plant ( கோவை, Coccina grandis) grows nice and green, from a surplus of water. Flood irrigation has its uses, letting other plants, thrive along with the cultivated crops, and provide medicines, fodder, or serve an ecological purpose.
There is a nest on an Indian Noni tree (Manjanathi, Morinda tinctoria, மஞ்சனத்தி). Most likely babblers’ nest. Their eggs are blue. It is middle of summer, so any fledglings, would have long left the nest.
Nearby a creeper covers a palmyra tree.
With nothing much to do, just decided to check a couple of big trees. Today there are not many trees, except for the cultivated ones. And even if they are, those are rather small trees. Farmers find most trees inconvenient, or they shade out crops, or “use up water and nutrients”.
The biggest neem trees here in the farm are only about 30 feet tall, and the morinda trees are of the same size. Climbing these trees require more flexibility than strength. Yoga helps, but any standard exercise, repetitions in a gym, will more likely leave you with muscle sprains. People who are generally regarded as strong, with ripping muscles, toned over hundreds of repetition in a gym, cannot handle motions, that deviate too far from their regular exercise routine. A yogi, with muscle flexibility and control, can go against a “strong” guy, and without any physical contact, leave him in paroxysm of pain, his muscles hopelessly sprained. Not that a yogi would do such a thing. So much for fat-chested-ness, fat-biceps-ness, and modern fitness!
Coming back to the topic of tree climbing, John Muir (the Muir Woods park in California is named after him), during a time of heavy winds, instead of running away and finding some shelter, found a tall tree, climbed up, and was swaying with the tree and the wind, one with nature, in a kind of cosmic union. Didn’t primitive man live lives, that were nasty, brutish and short?
The windy season hadn’t started, otherwise there would be gusts of wind at 100 kmph, enough to keep the windmills nearby locked. A thorny creeper was winding up the neem tree (Azadirachta indica, வேப்பை,வேம்பு), its backward pointing thorns a nuisance. There were a few unripe fruits, no flowers. A tree is not like a tall building, and even when you are 25 feet up, with no branches below, other than what you are holding onto, it feels more organic, connected, and yet free, with the wind in your face.
Looking out, one can see the brown of the earth and grass, mixed with the green of the cashew and palmyra trees, and the pale blue sky.
The Indian Noni tree’s bark is somewhat similar to a neem tree. But frequently the trunks twist and turn. This fruit of this tree, is a multiple fruit, with many seeds, so sometimes, two or more trees grow together.
On this tree, the twists and turns, created a nice horizontal place to sit on, and even take a nap. A liana can be seen twisting up the trunk.
The flowers of this tree are white, and have a nice fragrance. Its wood is yellow, hence the name Manjanathi (Manjal, மஞ்சள் means yellow).
There was a hole in the trunk, occupied by beetles, black with white spots. They seem to be “hiding”, heads inside, with the backs showing. Burying your head in the sand, like an ostrich? Actually hiding one’s head is an useful strategy. I’ve seen the quails do that. When the body has camouflage, the head and especially eyes, break the camouflage just a tiny bit, enough for predators to locate the quail.
Pirandai (Veldt Grape, Cissus quadrangularis) grows next to a palmyra tree. This plant has many uses too, but it is
primarily used for fixing bone fractures. The fruit is red, sweet.
Jujube fruiting is past its peak. This tree has a few fruits. Find the reddest fruits, and eat them quickly. Rather, don’t inspect the fruit too closely. You’ll see worms inside, they are harmless, and taste no different from the fruit. The fruit has a nice sweet-sour taste, and improves digestion.