I was the only one out cycling at dawn and many weaker souls wouldn’t have even ventured out on this grey morning. The mist laced my eyelashes and the fine hairs on my face, making me feel even more saintly. I felt glad to have my legs spinning the pedals and our faithful dog Eddie loping enthusiastically beside me. He suddenly started a half-hearted chase towards our old friend, the yellow-billed blue magpie. Hopping around looking for grubs in her usual haunt, her puzzling blue tail was at least one foot long and nearly tipped her backwards. As we approached she flew off and her long tail, with striped black-white margins floated behind gracefully. There were numerous frustrations at work this week. Despite many meetings with different Government officials, there were still no medicines to treat epilepsy or depression in any primary care centre. The new GST act is messing up our budget. But just as my mind started heading off in a rut of work related tasks, I was pulled back to the here and now.
A thin and long creature wove a smooth slalom through the fence posts along the road-edge. Flowing and sinuous, in a fur coat of chocolate and butterscotch, he didn’t even raise his head to look at me, but leapt in a waterfall of grace down the rock wall and into the nettles and kali ghas (black grass). Pine martens, royalty among mustelids, are a rare sighting.
This delight I feel on seeing wild animals and plants doing their thing, while I do mine, is visceral. The rhythm of seasons here in Mussoorie is orderly and dependable and there is rhyme too in the plants, birds, animals I meet in my morning cycle rides. I’m getting better at reading the choreographed sequence each year: now I wait for the first cuckoo calls by mid-April and we look to see the tree-ferns unfurl in a green fury from the third week of June. On this forested ridge of deodar cedars and Himalayan oak, when I turn away from the banter and business in my head, and open my ears and eyes, I know I am a wild creature too, and also a part of this eco-community.
Acknowledgement to Tui Motu -this is adapted from my column Looking In and Out.