A CALENDAR.SPLASH AWAY!
March is long and quiet, quiet and long. March isn’t February. Or April. Hot under the sun and cold without, March is uncertain. A merry dance of the sun and the wind. Of dust refusing to sit. March is patience.Long and quiet ,it crawls on.
Two very fuzzy little boys, slightly sweaty from a night under mosquito nets woke up at day peep. They were packed into the car, warm and giggly and taken to where the elephants stood tall and graceful all in a row.No dilly-dallying , strategically placing herself against the platform, just how her trainer the ‘mahout’ instructed Miss Elephant let the little boys get on the howdah . Mamma and papa got up too, obviously. The rails were put back on and Miss Elephant set on to tumble and roll through mounds of color and grassy perfumes.
A fragrant sunrise and a very quick sighting of a herd of deer, the little boys were beside themselves, dangling their legs in the most precarious ways , trying really hard to turn themselves into endangered species. All the while Papa was spotting away happily, ” a rhino there! there ‘s a baby too!!” ” those beefy wild buffaloes ” ” Another rhino” ” A deer” , mamma went on whispering warnings ,” hold on” ” push yourself up” ” Don’t let go” . A jumpy mamma brings the little ones laughter.
Fern fronds unfold and strappy dark leafy trees get taller. A stray branch comes perfectly squiggly trying to scrape knees. The slight wind catches up with Miss Elephant and riding on her through the jungle feels like riding on a wispy cloud. A height that doesn’t take to the top of the trees but to the densest middles where if you stood still, a plant would instantaneously grow on you, a creeper would warp over and again. A lake where the tiger comes to drink and a steep turn, Miss Elephant like a dancer makes. All this while the ‘mahout’ talks of tiger sightings and rhinos butting the elephants.
The jungle breathes heavy from the depths of the ground. A soporific perfume hangs, the little boys are lulled into quiet. On the elephant back, they have turned into arboreal creatures, dangling legs one with the tawny branches. Trees that look like fantasy, sprouting leaves in the blink of an eye.
Miss Elephant deposits them back on the platform. Poses for a picture . There are two more trips to make before she can call it a day.
All four pairs of eyes are gleaming. Like they do when one is starving but very happy. It doesn’t stop here. They go back to a warm breakfast and a safari on a jeep into the denser part of the jungle.
Enchanted. All thought suspended.
We stayed two days at Big Bear’s grandmother’s rustic village home while we were visiting family. A big house in a small place, where time has grown old, spry only in the wings of a firefly or the acoustics of a cricket. Either of which may fall with a final flutter into your glass of warm cow milk, in case you were a little boy indulging in creamy sips under the yellow light of an electric luminary. That would make you squirm and old Time laugh.
Where everyone knows everyone, where old grannies come one by one to look at the visitors. Where the skies seem to bend at the windows, curious, as if to hear what can be said in the absence of a shared language. I can comprehend just enough and not speak at all. Unmindful of it, old grannies peck my cheeks , run their hands down my shoulders, stand back, look, dotingly smile, sit down, sip tea. I feel too young, too shy. Old grannies, little girls somewhere,soft and fragile, worn and nurturing. Patchwork grannies , lovingly made with printed cottons, faded reds, inked blues, bleached whites, neatly hemmed. Thoughtfully grown old ,with old man Time.
Where Big Bear’s grandmother sits on a low wooden seat , as she gently gauges the generic roundness of each potato with her brown nimble fingers. With her indestructible iron knife she scores each eye that is threatening to sprout and removes it with jaunty coolness. Unhurriedly she takes off the peel in thin strips as the spud dances in her hand and with a final keen scrutiny plop goes the chipper into a bowl of water. Unwittingly she has brought on a serendipitous collision in my mind. Brought me as close to spirituality as I can get. Made me still, bent my thought like the sky at the window. Patchwork potatoes, fondly grown with pretty patterns of sunlight and red soil.
Old man Time lets me be. A dressmaker in a daydream. Dreaming away of chevron skies and rainbow quilts.