Fire on the Farm

We've had three fires on the farm in the last month. Two were small, insignificant, but one spread swiftly, sweeping through two fields, taking some banana trees along, melting the pump wiring, burning through the nalla and ravine till they eventually reached the cottages on the north-west corner. Vineet got a call from Nagamma while he was in town and rushed back. Together the two of them put out the fire before there was any serious damage. The two subsequent fires were easily put out.

Parched Earth

The scorched trails continue

The banana field
We're done, as far as fires go, for the summer now. We can look forward to new grasses growing and watch the land grow green with the rains of April.

Controlled burning is an old tradition among the farmers here. They begin burning the hillside in late February and walk alongside the fires beating them and maneuvering their passage with bunches of green shrubbery. But sometimes, a small breeze changes direction and the fires break lose.

Clearly there is some ancient wisdom in these fires. Small prescribed fires reduce excess fuel build up, especially with the rampant growth of indicator species such as lantana which have woody stems.  The landscape is thus cleared for new ploughing. The ash from the fire is nutrient rich, in turn enriching the soil. The goats and naati cattle that graze here love the tender new grasses and overall it's  "God's in His heaven and all's right with the world". But there are many arguments against controlled burning, the most obvious being the huge release of CO2. Also, the ash raises soil Ph, burning of dead leaves obstructs soil formation, small animals, snakes and insects are chased out of their burrows and so on. But we're talking about tiny fires over a few small shareholdings of a few acres each, not a billion hectares of cornfields, so I'm guessing that Hanumanthappa and my other neighbours figure the benefits outweigh the damage. I could quite easily be wrong, of course.

But in this season of fires we've simultaneously had several firsts. The Tabebuia, Jacaranda and Pink Cassia have all bloomed. Little tentative first bloomings, but still.

First blossoms
In town the blistering days of March are somewhat alleviated by the paint-job the trees of Bangalore chuck at us. The Tabebuia is the worst culprit (especially the guy on the St.Mark's Road side of Bishop Cotton Girl's School), a scandal of canary yellow. And the Pink Cassia alongside old King George in Cubbon Park. (I took the Theatre Lab kids there yesterday, just to say hello. "We're done observing people, now you want us to observe trees!" they moaned, the little ingrates.) And the ultimately delicate pink blossoms of the Rainflower, watermelon-fragrant. The joy of it! What sap within transforms itself so, what chemistry occurs? Taking a cue from these trees, I decreed that I would have avenues of flowering trees on the farm. So we planted, lustily and with gay abandon, yellow, orange, pink and mauve. And now, five years of slow growing later, we are witness to glimpses of the future.

The baby roses that come to life near the banana field
Pink Cassia
White Bougainvillea
The Bad Boy of Flowering Trees: Tabebuia



Morning fantasy.

I'm on the farm.

Photo Credit: Harris Backer at Infinite Souls Farm

 I was reading Colin Beaven's blog No Impact Man http://noimpactman.typepad.com/ and I noticed the byline says "A blog by Colin Beaven about what each of us can do to end our environmental crisis, make a better place to live for ourselves and everyone else, and hopefully come up with a happier way of life along the way."

And I thought...

Our Infinite Souls blog should be defined as "A blog about a musician and an actor and how they went about the adventure of their lives. How they dragged their angel daughter along and traversed the bumpy roads of love and dreamed impossible dreams and how one such dream came true. How they managed to buy a holy piece of land with a view of a hill and how they actually built some shelters on it and some rehearsal space and how they grew bananas and had theatre and music workshops on this holy land."

Would that would be too long?

But it is a story that must be told. Some other day, perhaps...

Just know that we come from strong stock, Zui. Our forefathers threw it all away for love and poetry, sold a typewriter to build a house and so on. So we have a dogged persistance that makes us loath to give up the good things in life for security, crystal and sofas (instead, we dig tents, campfires, walking in the woods with dogs named Timmy and Scamper*). We're diff-logical (we function with a different system of logic) and diff-practical (where's the romance in practical-practical?) and we completely and absolutely believe in dreams.

*Ours are in fact called Bamboo, Mushroom and Prudence. The cat is Kiara.


I feel like I left you, lover...

                                                                     Photo Credit: Harris Backer at Infinite Souls Farm

...for not dwelling on your curves
And while I was there and there
and there
Other stuff made its way in
and second best-ed my love
But I'm back
I never left
We're fallible for what?
To doubt, to fear
To fail
To back track and find ourselves
Somewhere in the wildflowers
Of you.

Crazy, baby
How come in the laughing
we never remember
Never remember
how far it's possible to fall
How come in the loving
we never remember
Never remember.

A lone animal
it is
This creature
that bays at our heels,
Chiding us
A lone animal
much like us.