30 May, 2013

Nature - A Bounty of Colours

(Pic Courtesy : 1ms.net via Google)

Ever imagined a world without colours ?  Try.  Difficult, is it not ?  Difficult because we’ve never tried to comprehend what the world would be like without colours in it.  I tried to imagine what a colourless world would be like and the words that came to mind were -  Bleak, depressing, boring, uninviting, dismal. 
Today morning, as I walked to school, I actually feasted my eyes on the riot of colour on the roads.  For the first time in many days, the sky stretched over HK skies – a large canvass of blue.  It could have been my imagination but it actually seemed to be beckoning to the sun with open arms.  I missed the traffic light and had to stand on the pavement for an extra couple of minutes.  As I waited for the lights to turn green again, I noticed the white balls of fluffy clouds in the sky.  It was beautiful.  Some small, some large – yet there seemed to be an odd kind of unity amongst the clouds that lay so beautifully scattered across the sky. 
The trees bore testimony to the fact that they have a timetable of their own.  While we faithfully follow the calendar, the trees seem to follow their own hearts or Mother Nature probably has a different timetable for each tree.  Some trees with their new lush green leaves and some with their brown withered leaves.  Atop the trees were whole families of birds – adult birds and the young ones.  It was a sight so beautiful that I wondered as to how I’d missed it before.  I take the same route every single day and I’d never actually taken the time or the trouble to “notice” these bounties of nature.
Summer brings out the colours in people too.  Winters usually see people dressed in jackets which tend to be basic colours.  Summer, on the other hand, brings about an explosion of colours.  Today morning, as I stood at that signal, I watched atleast four people walk past in rainbow colours and it filled the heart with cheer.
As I was mentally planning the lesson flow for today’s reading lesson, a thought did cross my mind.  We adults whiz through life, missing out on the colours and bounties of nature almost every single day.  How about children ?  Decided to take a little detour and stop by the landing from where the school farm is visible in all its glory.
The pact was to “see” – to actually “see” and take things in and not just look and forget.  The carrot – they could speak to each other or to me and they could talk as much as they wanted to.  The condition (for it cannot really be called the stick) – they had to speak in English J. 
The project started out pretty quietly with the children not quite sure as to what was expected of them.  I did not prompt them, for, I did not want to guide the thought processes.  It was a beautiful day, the surroundings bursting in an explosion of colours and what I wanted was for them to enjoy this bounty that nature offers us almost all the time.  This very bounty that we take for granted.  This abundance that more often than not, goes unnoticed. 
It started as a little buzz with a couple of kids taking notice of the crops that were growing on the farm.   Tall green stalks of corn had shot up from the arms of Mother Earth like children growing up too fast.  Amidst the swaying sea of green were the little yellow shoots peeping through as though reaching out to kiss the sun’s rays, to soak up the warmth.  One of the little ones piped up “The corn plant is happy”.  Indeed they were.  It made me look at the budding stalks of corn from a new perspective and yes, they did seem happy and content – swaying to a rhythm of their own as though caressed by the breeze, they did look happy.   Little brown squirrels were running around in lazy abandon, their bushy tails bobbing up and down as they raced the length of the farm, unrestrained and free.  The resident cat at school, a white and brown ball of fur lazed contentedly in one corner of the farm as it bathed in the sunlight that was pouring in to the farmland.    Across the road, the river rippled gently as the waters lapped the sides of the bridge and there seemed to be an unheard melody in the movement.  It was sublime and through all the chatter around, the one thing that my heart was filled with at that moment in time was peace.  Little voices chirped with excitement,  their eyes bright, hands animated – yet, there was a resounding sense of peace, of nature spreading its healing balm, of nature gently applying the brakes to fill the senses with its beauty and serenity.
The children had caught on quickly and the excitement was palpable.  The enthusiasm had spread pretty much like ripples spreading across the length of a pool.  It was almost as if they were looking at things through a different lens – a lens that brought out the glory of colours with the perfections and the faults.  One of the children pointed out to something that all the others had missed – a green plant which had one streak of brown in it – just one little shoot in that plant had decided it did not want to grow and was withering and brown.  Yet, that little “imperfection” brought out the beauty of the surrounding green of the plant. 
The squeals were aplenty as they noticed the little butterflies fluttering their little wings, settling on the little flowers and then flitting away in a burst of colours.  One big butterfly was resting idly on the landing and did not seem perturbed by the bunch of kids who, by now, were like little Energizer Bunnies.  The butterfly continued its siesta, drawing gushes of admiration from the kids by lazily fluttering open its beautiful wings.  “Red, yellow, green and brown” piped little voices as the butterfly worked its magic.  We noticed a couple of caterpillars who seemed to be on a lazy morning stroll and a couple of beetles that were trying to figure out the process of climbing down steps.  Leaves brought in, these little critters were duly rescued from what would have been sure death had they stayed on the stairs (for, the stairs turn into a scene from Jumanji with hundreds of feet stamping and stomping downstairs during recess time) and off we went, our little troupe – into the little room that we reserve for Group Reading sessions. 
The book I’d chosen for them today had to do with nature too.  A caterpillar, a cricket and a butterfly – these were what the story revolved around.  It warmed the heart to see them use the language so freely – something that they would otherwise hesitate to do.  It was almost as if that little tryst with Mother Nature and her bountiful colours had unleashed the free spirit in them.  We did not stop at the book – the discussion went on and very soon we were talking about rainbows and the spring flowers.
After the lesson, as we walked out of the classroom, the weather was still sunny but there was rain as well.  It was one of those rather infrequent combinations that one does not really witness all the time.  We did not go back to the classroom immediately.  We waited.  We waited outside, lined up against the railings in the corridor, some with noses pressed between the railings, for they are indeed little ones.  We waited, necks craned, eyes seeking and raised towards the skies.  We waited for the sunlight to fall on that one elusive drop of rain which would then set off a burst of colours across the sky in the wonder that we know as the rainbow.  It was not to happen.  Not yet.  But I’m sure they will witness the magic of a rainbow someday and I’m sure they will revel in the magic that a rainbow unleashes.
Like George Washington Carver once said
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.

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