My morning ritual involves spending time with plants and trees. I pull up a chair and sit close to a bush I love or next to the hardy aloe vera cluster whom I have never really attended to as much as I should have. Sometimes I put my arms around the jasmine bush, now pruned and skinny. The mighty mango trees; mighty because the thick trunks speak of many years on this earth have me intimidated. I put out a hand on the trunk so that I feel connected. I stand underneath the spreading canopy of the guava tree that had white flowers a few weeks back and that’s now bearing tiny fruit. I ruffle through the curry leaves tree. There’s a tree that’s suspected to be Amaltas (why hasn’t it borne any flowers?). There’s another one with tiny red flowers, which look more like thin strips of colour. There’s a tree of indeterminate name and lineage. It’s thorny and looks hardy. There’s peepal in the vacant lot next door, the heart shaped, fresh green leaves showing up above the boundary wall. And the little flowers growing from a green clump of what looks like grass open when the sun is out and close at sunset.
When I read an article in Wall Street Journal on how a woman and her children made friends with a tree and felt happier and calmer I immediately thought of my tree gang. Just the thought of spending time quietly near a tree made me feel happier.
Years ago, I read a book on emotional quotient. It talked of the benefits of being connected with nature. At a workplace, even a single live plant can bring peace. No wonder, little potted desk plants are so popular.
All of us do not have the luxury of huge gardens or even easy access to green spaces. So balcony gardens, hanging plants, planters in corners can bring in the much needed greenery into our homes. The simple act of watering the plants, nurturing them, watching them grow can be soothing. If you are mindful in the time you spend with your plants, it can bring much peace.
For most of us, there’s a lot of anxiety bubbling inside us, as we navigate the pandemic. Distractions help only for a short while but something as simple as nurturing a plant can lead to a mindset shift. From trying to subdue the stress, you are actively managing it through your green friends. Being surrounded by plants also boosts creativity. I wasn’t aware of this but that might be the reason I like to think and do my writing sitting under a tree.
Having some green plants even if you live in a small flat is doable and has plenty of emotional benefits. And of course, along with our own emotional well-being, we are contributing to the well-being of our environment.
No matter where I go, which city I am visiting or living in, the first thing I seek out are trees. More than the buildings and other urban spaces, trees define the place for me. With rapid expansion of cities, green belts are replaced by highways or flyovers. There are trees still in these spaces if you seek out the streets or look beyond vacant lots where garbage seems to be piling up.
When I moved to a large metropolis, the first thing I noticed on stepping out of the railway station was a huge tree, tucked beneath a flyover. On construction sites, there are trees covered with mud and cement but there nevertheless. I seek out the trees next to canals of water. Parks of course nurture them but the real finds are sometimes the most joyous. You can find tiny flowers strewing the sidewalk in an otherwise concrete area of the town if you go early enough before the streets are swept.
Trees which have been around for a long time are such a comfort. They have seen many seasons and people and are witness to the cycles of nature and life.
I found this tree tucked away in a dingy lane, away from the crowded area which is swarmed by crowds in the day. Maybe a few of those people find respite from the mid day heat in its shade.
I took this picture on a rainy day, having gone out to capture the tiny flowers near the sidewalk. The delicate petals drooped with the weight of the water droplets but I looked up to see this fruit hanging down from the tree, ready to be plucked, as the others had been, before this.
Looking at the verdant green makes me long for the rains again, the steady beat of the drops on the tin roofs of the balconies and leaves and buds sprouting everywhere.
Winter is mild here, a touch and go affair. It is getting warmer and the dried foliage around, however, means that I can see more of the lake from my windows and admire the sun shimmering bright on the water.
I am inspired to post this picture for Becca’s Sunday Trees.
I have loved trees all my life, always noticing them, in the unlikeliest of places and times. Through looking at Becca’s trees every week and the numerous other entries there, I feel encouraged to share my own pictures.
This week, Becca completes 6 years of posting trees on her blog. That’s an amazing long time to keep up with your passion.
Wishing her many more years of appreciating trees.