Of Lockdown Gardening, Birdie Buddies and Green Mates.
Few years ago, I relocated back to India and set up home in Chennai. While packing off, I had given away my balcony full of plants to friends, with a heavy heart. Some of my empty planters had travelled back with me as a keepsake.
Extremely fond of plants and greens but with no time to tend to a garden I would have liked, I was absorbed, my hands full with work, children and life. Frequent travel and time away from home made it difficult to keep the plants watered in our absence. As a result, the few plants I had kept, died. Thereafter, I kept my fingers away from dipping back in soil and shoots for many months.
In 2019, Chennai had sparse rains and huge water shortage.
I put all my gardening plans to rest. A barren ceramic pot lay quiet in one corner of the balcony. Then, one day I spotted a little green shoot in the lone planter, a pigeon would often hop around the pot at dawn. The shoot grew sooner than I had expected and soon bloomed into a bouquet, wild grass pouring out of the round corners, like a little girl’s tousled curls. The birdie had brought grass seed from the park below and now this pot became her favourite perching spot.
The grey and pink spotted pigeon would often flutter by in the hot summer months, eat the seeds from flowering grass strands and play. Her friends started dropping by too. My son was fascinated by the cacophony and observed the corner intently every day. The resilient variety of grass prospered without any care, without water for days. I watered it on and off, with recycled water from the kitchen.
Three dry summer months we lived with water shortage and rationing in the apartment complex. The first spell of rain in September, after many months, brought unparalleled cheer to the city. The grass bed survived the heat and bloomed with double the vigour, with fresh lash of rains, day and night. The shining spirit of the grass and birdie duo, filled my heart with hope and optimism and I decided to bring new plants, at last. So, we welcomed ten plant babies and filled the leftover soil in empty plastic boxes.
Soon the garden bloomed and with hit and trial, we learnt how to take proper care of the plants.
The amount of water needed in summers, shade needed in heat, tackling bugs, compost, weeding, repotting, we unlearnt and learnt new skills. New buds sprouted on their own in the pots with soil, from seeds embedded in soil, seeds sowed by birds and dry flowers blown by wind. I kept adding new plants in each season, flowers of different colours, local varieties that thrive in hot humid coastal weather.
The balcony now looked like a lively space and the most beautiful part of the house. Lifeless dusty corners inside the house too brightened up with a plant makeover. Within a year, I had over sixty plants. My parents visited me during this time and my father taught me few gardening skills. We bonded over the ‘weeding and tilling the soil’ sessions, sharing notes. Our long distance calls often include plant care tips and ‘balcony tour’ video calls.
Then, 2020 struck.
During the strict lockdown in April, the balcony turned our ‘fresh air and sun light’ zone. Long summer evenings were spent here, chatting, singing, planning meals, reading books. A bamboo mat was laid on floor and we engaged children with UNO, Ludo, quiz games to get through the tough time. While dividing chores, my daughter took over the plant care and surprisingly, her touch added magic. Plants turned healthier and brighter. I asked her how? She replied, I talk to them. I spend quality time with each one individually. Okay 🙂
The green corner is a blessing that helped us through the months we didn’t step out. Greens are soothing to the eyes and fill the heart with joys we’ve long forgotten, in a world rushing by. The lush foliage has now spilled over to all parts of the house.
A quiet blessing
Each morning I wake up to the sound of birds dancing on the rails, picking small bits from the soil. A rose bud blooming into a smiling flower over a week, sprinkles hope in a dull and predictable routine. The reds, pinks, violets and whites fuse to paint a melange of colour and happiness, where I spend many calm mornings and watch the sunset.
Under the canopy of blue sky and sitting beside a blessing of Mother Nature, I remind myself, I’m a small speck in this world and one day, like the many kings and queens and peasants and painters, I’ll melt into the soil and perhaps be poured someday, into a planter, in someone’s garden.
‘This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter’ (https://www.theblogchatter.com/causeachatter)