Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Moth

She got the head count for the party from her friend. - sambar for twenty people. "This should be fairly easy," she thought. Having routinely made sambar for ten people, she would just double the quantities and be done with it on the day of the picnic.
The day of the picnic dawned, bright and beautiful, after the heavy rains of the previous night. No more rain was in  the forecast for the day.
The dal was simmering away in the pressure cooker and the vegetables being chopped with alacrity, when the pressure cooker decided to malfunction and release steam prematurely. She rushed to remove it from the heat and realign the gasket. Back to the stove, with fingers crossed this time that the dal would finish cooking in peace. Alas, that was not to be. It turned out partly cooked and needed an additional round of steaming in the dubious cooker.
Finally, a good half hour later than planned, the sambar for twenty was done, poured into a disposable roaster, wrapped up in plastic wrap and aluminum foil ample enough to hermetically seal it for a voyage to outer space. Time to head out to the picnic, which was being held in a shelter at a local park.
The shelter was surrounded by large puddles of water,  the picnic tables covered with bird droppings, the remnants of last year's autumn wood fires in the chimney. A solitary chickadee hopped hopefully on the table, chirping as the people made their way gingerly past the puddles and slimy mud onto the concrete of the shelter. Time to get cracking on spreading plastic sheets and setting up the food for the picnic.
Two hours later, the dingy shelter looked transformed. People filled every nook and cranny, chairs were set up in the drying grass nearby, food aplenty on all the tables as everyone brought their offerings to the potluck. The sambar shared space with the onion chutney and idlis, and a few of the younger kids had already started digging into their share of the goodies.
She turned away from her chatting friends toward the food tables when she spied a commotion around the sambar pan and rushed to investigate. She saw a lady gingerly ladling out a scoop of it, and dashing it on the ground near the post. A black and red moth fluttered to the side, and one of the other ladies nearby took it into her head to attempt to stamp on the moth.
The hostess of the party rushed up. " I must discard the sambar!"she declared definitively and loudly.  Sambar-lady looked up in horror. "Oh no, it was barely in the sambar for more than a couple of seconds. After all my effort...", she wailed.
"Oh, but everyone has seen it fall into the sambar! I know, I feel so bad about having to toss out the sambar... but..." pleaded the hostess.
 "But what will the others do when they come to have the idlis. I don't think the chutney will be enough."
"The sambar is almost over anyway", said the hostess.
"No, it's only about a third done. That is a deep pan, so you will be tossing out two thirds of it. Any way, do what you wish", despaired Sambar-lady.
 She turned away, not wishing to see what transpired with her precious sambar and walked off to talk with other friends. A few minutes later, the hostess confirmed, with much apologies that she did decide to toss out the sambar.
"Watch out for the rest of the dishes that are now sitting out in the open. There are bound to be other insects to fall into them, if we aren't careful." tossed Sambar-lady as a final quip.

As to the moth, who knows whether it survived the stomp. Sambar-lady loves to think that it flew away despite the abuse heaped on its little self. And Sambar-lady will offer to only bring bottles of pop rather than slaving away over a stove the next time she appears at a picnic, as she recovers from the tragedy of the lost sambar.

Mystical Mornings

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Mornings, misty and otherwise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Baby Sparrow

It looked at me and turned its back, busily attempting to munch on the remnants of an oak blossom stuck to our mat. Only the picture window and screen separated us, as I knelt on the carpet about 2 feet away inside the house, while the baby sparrow sat outside on the deck.

I moved up sneakily, every time its back was turned, feeling faintly like the creepy stone angels of Dr.Who. In just three tries, I was practically nose to beak with it.It stood unafraid and continued to chirp silently through the glass, picking at bits of dried leaf now. I could practically hear it accusing me "I'm hungry, give me food!", just like my human kids coming home ravenous after a hard day at school.

"Come here quick!", I called out to M, as she tapped away aimlessly at her iPod. "You have to see this little bird." She rushed and knelt by my side, as I continued my silent communion with the little feathered friend. It chirped some more, preened its feathers. "Look at the line of down around the wings!', M exclaimed. "What kind of bird is it?"

I didn't know offhand, though it had all the markings of a sparrow. I would need to look it up later. Should I rush for my camera or phone to try and capture it, or rest in the moment and just watch it? Decisions, decisions.  The minutes ticked by, and routine called. It was time to continue getting ready for school and work and the morning rush hour.

I stepped away regretfully, and sure enough, a moment later, Baby Sparrow had flown away.

Here is a photo of a baby sparrow, though not the one I saw, just to give a feel for what my encounter was like.  Although I must say, my baby sparrow was immeasurably cuter.