The mellow February sunshine, crisp winter breeze, and a clear blue sky: perfect setting for an afternoon rendezvous with nature in my enviable backyard. As I sit in my gazebo, slouching on the wrought-iron chair, holding my favourite novel and a hot cup of finely brewed Darjeeling; I find myself distracted.
A pair of satin bowerbirds catches my eye. It feeds on the fruit of a crimson shrimp and flutters gracefully to the next flower. Close by, many small birds splash in a stone-carved birdbath under the Krishna ficus, and drink water from it. The well-mannered grey tits and green-headed tits wait for their turn to take a dip, sitting on the bath's moss-infested rim.
They all fly away, only to settle on the branches of the grapefruit tree to dry themselves. The scissor-tailed flycatcher arrives with all its flamboyance and style and indulges in a luxurious bath, as it has the pool all to itself.
Honeybees buzz around, pushing their way into the mauve chrysanthemums and, abracadabra, disappearing in a jiffy, only to reappear seconds later. A flight of pigeons lands smoothly on the ground, scrutinising its surroundings carefully, moving stealthily towards the manji (cot) on which wheat is laid out. A banquet is on the cards; all are cordially invited.
The impish and mischievous gangs of squirrels run in between the cane mesh supporting the sweet-peas, almost like they're playing kho-kho. Soon they join the feast, a time-out, I presume.
A pair of rose-ringed parakeet is romancing on the pine-tree branch, oblivious of its surroundings. Down on the wooden bench, two armored chameleons stay still, disguised in the backdrop of the luscious green ivy. An army of ants march across the slate table, I leave them undisturbed.
Babblers and bulbuls are bustling in and out of the bougainvillea topiaries. The angry bird, I like to call it, is looking furiously for insects in the Calcutta selection.
Grasshoppers and crickets, making strange noises, hop around and settle ultimately on the miniature exquisite peepal bonsai, commencing their musical. Delicate butterflies with transparent wings stay put on the marigolds like an obedient audience. I too, am all ears; it is therapeutic and liberating to listen to this cacophony: nature's oxymoron.
Birds, insects and squirrels are expressing their delight and joy at the beautiful, satisfying winter before the sultry hot weather. I take the last sip of tea in the cup, longing for more and hoping the day never comes to an end. The clock ticks 4.30pm; the sun is staging its exit.
My friends bid me farewell. But as they say, goodbyes aren't forever, for we shall meet again. This fascinating rendezvous shall continue tomorrow and forever.