There are too many days of mellow sunshine, long-bellied clouds and serpentine, chilled winds. It is past third week of April and echo of spring is still faint. Buddha, my backyard tree shows no signs of immediate blooming. It knows better than any weatherman, what is happening and what have we done now to screw our expected, natural cycles.
I remember the fading season of winter in India. It has a certain smell of the landscape beginning to turn ripe with an endless riot of color. The faint and refrained dulcet of crisp wind evaporating into light, warm curls over terraces with colorful clothesline. Or the psychedelic duvet or rajai covers spread on the patio before they are folded and kept away with mothballs in every layer. The crunching mouths of temporarily idle housewives in thawing sunlight holding half-ripe, half-eaten guavas. And somewhere not too far a cotton-ginner suddenly busy with the throbbing strain of his instrument in midst of fluffy, lumps of cotton. All adding to the little touches of winter’s swan song and herald of spring.
To me, winter has its charms and that is the silver lining in its fury. Who can forget the heavenly touch of hot, masala chai under the layer of blankets in early morning when teeth are clattering and bodies huddle close to claim a centimeter of warmth? Or if you are outside while feeling the sharp whip of wind, a glowing lamp on the street and the trees decorated with icy jewels make you forget your misery. Even if for a moment. The hope of finding a crackling hearth hastens you to take shelter, pushing your limits with the whistling air.
In between days of winter and spring, are the ones when it rains. Sometimes warm, sometimes cool with a mist in it belly. Oblique lines of water hit the hibernating earth and wake up grass seeds. On humid days, it hits softly on the window panes preparing them for the view it has been rehearsing underground.
Amidst oscillating temperatures,the roadside restaurants in India serve the best food in the perfect ambiance of tables and chairs scattered in an uncovered ground – an open invitation to anyone who wants a bite or otherwise. The simmering tea kettle, the bustling odor of snacks and food, the foul-mouthed attendants covered in shabby clothes running around – grinning with splashing water and curries, is enough to raise appetite to an unexpected level.
The goodbye to winter happens almost too soon, even after it has over stayed. No matter where you are on the globe. One fine day the temperature refuses to dip and the sun stays longer; the bulbs split open over the ground and the season of colorful shorts and skin becomes the style of pavement. Birds make their way into the trees shrouded with leaves and blossoms – raising their unused, jubilant voices – spreading the scent of spring and marking the end of monochrome season of restoration, sleep and bonfire.
I walk outside and spot a bunny resting in my golden, dried up yard. We lock eyes for a second and off he shoots, leaving the spoor of incoming spring.