I missed playing with manure…

Sunday, 9 August 2009 10:57 by salim

Yes, yes, I know. A lot of people consider manure as yucky and playing with it is gross. But growing up in Kerala, cow manure was a constant presence in many shapes and forms around me.

We had cows, so obviously that account for a lot of dung. My father used to do most of the things, but quite often we, the kids get to clean the pasture or take the cowdung and put it in its tank. A tank filled with juicy grubs… I should tell it to survivor man. There was an episode where he practically lived off of grubs from some trees.

So, when my vegetable garden started growing quite fast, thanks to all the rain, I was in a way excited to put my hands on some manure.

So, yesterday, we bought two bags of manure. I made these small dams (we call it Thatam. I really don’t know the actual English word for it.) around the plants. Earlier, without the dams we were missing quite a lot of water. Shobha made it for some of the plants, but they were too shallow to accommodate the manure. It was bit of a back breaker as I could use only a small hand shovel, so as not to damage the plants.

I was a bit disappointed to see that the manure I bought was not just cow dung, but contains many other things like chicken poop (not something I am unfamiliar with), peat moss etc. So, my calculation could be wrong. I may have to go back and get more of these or see if any of the nearby farms sell their dried manure.

Yesterday night’s rain had perfect timing. I hope it did not cause too much of the manure to leach away. Can’t wait to see the first long beans.

Cardinals in the secret garden

Saturday, 25 July 2009 11:53 by salim

There is a cardinal family living in my secret garden. They are the most tricky, elusive birds. Absolutely beautiful as well.

Every time I see them, I run to get my camera. It is almost like they have an instinctual distaste to be photographed. The moment I aim my camera at them, they fly away.

Today morning, which by the way is very gorgeous, I was standing in my porch beaming at the new cherry tomatoes that are coming out. And there they were. Both of them, very carefree, pecking around the plants. This was the first time I was able to see them at this close distance.

The male has one ruffled feather, may be he just had a fight. The female was quite content, just pecking without looking around. He did turn his head towards me and alerted his mate. But after some thought they decided to stay.

I resisted my urge to run back and get my camera. This time, I just watched them. They look even more bright and colorful under the deep blue sky, bright sunny day. Yesterday’s rain have left the leaves gleaming. I love this, and I can keep this image in my mind, without the need for a photo.

I am going to continue to try to get them in my camera. One of these days, I will, and I will share it. Until then, if you can read mind, come in my REM sleep today and replay it :-)

Invasion of Crows

Tuesday, 21 July 2009 23:55 by salim

It was a quite cloudy day. Low clouds always give me headache. Sinus problems. Yes, yes, I know, I should stop smoking.

So, in the morning, I was lying in my favorite couch sipping my tea. Suddenly I hear crows.

Crows are a constant presence back home in Kerala. Some of my best memories involve distant crowing in the afternoon. Have you ever listened to the lonely crow? Especially in a hot afternoon. It is kind of magical. But, it is downright creepy when you hear a crow at night.

Anyways, I walked outside and saw a whole bunch of crows at the top branches of the oak. I think I have seen one or two crows around, but never in this many numbers. They must have found something.

In Kerala, one kind of crows are believed to bear the souls departed ones. In the anniversary of death, we call the crows to come and eat cooked sun-dried rice. Take a dip in the pond over there, climb up without drying, clap your wet hands, and there the crows (Bali Kakka – Sacrificial Crow, no we don’t kill them. Rice is the offering to the crows).

It was weird to hear that many crows in Philadelphia. They are much bigger than back home as well. May be they are planning a Hitchcockian invasion!