Our ode to Fair Monsoons

Come and serenade the season of monsoon with Katie Bagli, and our eternal love-affair with the season which brings with it the fruitfulness of spring and summers, and the fulfilment of autumn.

Each year most of us look forward to the monsoon season. Not only because of the cool breeze that brings a welcome respite to the searing heat of summer (‘monsoon’ comes from the Arabic word ‘mausim’ meaning season of shifting winds), but also because the rains seem to wave a magic wand, making all of nature come alive. It is during this season that we get to see the various moods of the weather gods – loud booming thunder, flashes of lightning, tempestuous gales, gentle drizzles.

Of course, the monsoons wreak a lot of havoc in our unplanned, unprepared cities, but take a break and go to the countryside and you get to see nature at its best. Seeds that had lain unnoticed on the forest floors suddenly germinate. Frogs and toads that had been strangely silent during the rest of the year become conspicuous by their nocturnal overtures which they render most passionately. Fluorescent green meadows with a vivid array of wildflowers, streams and waterfalls gushing down the mountains add to the great artist’s palette.

The wild varieties of what we normally buy from the market emerge like phantoms in the forests – wild yam (Amorphophallus commutatus), wild grapes (Vitis vinifera), wild turmeric (Cucurma pseudomontana), wild ginger (Costus speciosus) – the list is pleasantly long. Moreover, we get to see a plethora of wild monsoon flora which only thrives as long as the rains last. Just to name a few, the fragile white Tutari flowers (Rhamphicarpa fistulosa) whose petals are translucent, the ghost flowers (Aeginatia indica) which are seen near streams and are actually root parasites and the strange Cup-and-Saucer plant (Breynia retusa) whose flowers dangle like tiny bells and fruits look like inverted cups resting on saucers, initially green, then turning to red. If we are lucky then towards the end of the season, we may get to see the ethereal Glory lily (Gloriosa superba) flowers that look like exquisite red and yellow chandeliers. The plant, which is a climber, is highly endangered because it’s over-collected by people.

The excessive foliage at this time of the year is teaming with a host of insects, many of whom are ever-hungry leaf munchers and many are predators making meals of those other insects. Just walk along a grassy path and you get to see hundreds of grasshoppers leaping out in all directions.

Let the rain clouds dispel for a while to reveal the hidden sun and outcome the fluttering flying jewels, the butterflies who are sun-worshippers and look like fairies of the forest. We also get to see a variety of fungi and mushrooms, the saprophytes that decompose all dead matter and release precious elements into the soil.


Read also: Revisiting the moments in the wild 

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About the Author /

Katie Bagli is an avid nature lover and she gives expression to her passion by writing for children. She has several published titles to her credit, nearly all of which are on various subjects of nature. Besides writing Katie also enjoys illustrating her own books. Through her writing she strives to bring about awareness and sensitise the young to the environment and wildlife. Her books have been recommended for general reading in schools and also to college students of zoology. Nature and environment are topics close to her heart. When the BMC came up with a plan of revamping Rani Bagh (now known as VJB Udyan and Zoo), Byculla, Katie joined four other women to form the Save Ranibagh Foundation which campaigned to save the more than 3000 trees that exist there from the construction work that would take a toll on them. Katie has conducted various wildlife workshops and story-telling sessions in schools (in Mumbai and elsewhere) and other institutions. She had also been invited by the Andhra Pradesh Government to Vijayawada to conduct a session on Literacy Day for the Differently Abled Children. She is on the advisory board of the science magazine Spectrum, a joint venture by the faculties of St. Xavier’s College and Sophia College, which is targeted for school children of standards 7 – 9. Katie also blogs for Saevus, India’s premier wildlife magazine. When she is not writing Katie devotes her time to taking tree walks, nature trails, and conducting creative nature writing workshops for children. She also indulges in fun-filled nature-related activities for the young and old, like writing scripts and organising puppet shows and plays.

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