Spring is here, officially from the 20th of March. So much goes by the calendar here. Even seasons come in a pattern as if, in varied hues and colors, painting the landscape like a rainbow, announcing a good feeling, in fact a feeling so overwhelming, that even the time table changes. We lose an hour in the morning, setting our clocks forward, hence getting more light and beauty to enjoy in the evenings. And we pay a price for that. Kids are woken up early, office goers jets off early, everything is hurried and huffed on the first day of Spring. Some friends need to be reminded and some children come up with queries. Clocks are manually re-set and digital ones diligently set with no help – Amazing! The perfectly trimmed trees with stark branches start birthing pale green leaves, the pre-teens, somewhat awkward yet carrying themselves up with sensitive pride. The fully bosomed and blossomed trees stand dangling in voluptuous bundles of white, the teenage years, youthful, vibrant and stunning. I stand and ogle at Nature’s bounty. The land is blessed and starts afresh. Bygones are bygones and here we herald the New.
A spring in my steps, I smile at my children and they smile back, a twinkle in their eyes. The privilege of being children is that they speak through their eyes. They are nine and seven years old and Spring is the way of their everyday life - soft, sweet, fresh, naïve and beautiful. They laugh full throttle, they run in full vigour, they jump high and they sleep quiet. They will soon outgrow their spring time just like spring will swiftly turn into summer- nothing stops, nothing waits. The moments come to feel and surrender, to something brighter and bolder. Summer, not yet please- You can wait! Give me some more time with innocence, questions, giggles, leaps, mamas, lunchboxes, shoelaces, and story times. I hold on to my little girls and surrender and submerge myself in this season of their lives. Lots of kisses, lots of hugs, lots of ice-creams, lots of love, lots of memories!
The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.—Joyce Kilmer.
Each leaf, each blade of grass vies for attention. Even weeds carry tiny blossoms to astonish us.
The “Blue-bonnets”, the State flower of Texas, signals the arrival of Spring, ushering in Texans’ annual love affair with the famous wild flower. They glow in lavender hues, mesmerizing and glittering from afar, as if a mirage in a desert. And they do bloom in deserted lands, by the highways, by the hillsides, in nooks and corners, in patches of surprises, here some, oh! there some, and then they get adamant and bold and spread out in endless sheets of unattended land. And mirage they are not, as I get closer, running towards huge fields swaying in violet blues, I am a child once again. I capture their images with my naked eyes, with a promise to bring my children and my camera next time, imagining their squeals of laughter, playing hide and seek behind these splashes of colour, as I would try in vain to get a few shots in my digital camera. “No Mama, we want to play.” They’ll shout, I’m sure. “No pictures, please!” They’ll grumble, for they would not want to waste a minute of their adrenaline rush. I would give in, put my camera back, and instead make a space among the bluebonnets, and watch my girls roll and tumble, appear and disappear, in the glimmering morning sunshine. This would be a different weekend. This would be a Spring weekend. Our souls would intertwine with these seasonal beauties in the wild. Nature we oblige, and your beauty we behold!
Spring is honoured in America by Spring break - A whole week of holidays where schools and colleges go on a mini vacation. There is joy, there is rest, there is outdoors, there are sights to see, neighborhoods to stroll by, parks and recreational centers to visit, some fly Las Vegas, some go Disney, some stay back in good old Texas, as we did, and paid tribute to the “The Arboretum” the Botanical Garden in East Dallas, a 66-acre of garden which has a breathtaking view of the White Rock Lake and the downtown Dallas skyline. It has a spectacular display of gorgeous gardens that showcase incredible seasonal flowers, ornamental shrubs, trees and plant collection, fountains, seasonal festivals, educational tours, concerts and more. Many a wedding take place amidst this garden of picturesque grandeur. We went and spent an afternoon there to witness the famous “Dallas Blooms” where 500,000 spring blooming bulbs including tulips, daffodils, dutch iris and hyacinths, in addition to 100,000 pancies, violas, poppies and thousands of other spring blooming annuals and perennials, 100 Cherry Blossom trees and flowering finale of 6,000 azaleas, mark the magnificent power of flowers to hundreds of joyous visitors daily.
As we returned swathed in the beauty of the Arboretum, one of William Wordsworth’s most beautiful poem on the River Yarrow came to my mind. In the poem “Yarrow Unvisited” the poet refers to the river giving a true picture of life. At first, he was fearful to visit the valley thinking about the sadness that could overshadow him if it fails to match his inception of beauty that he held for the valley in his imagination. However on his visit to the coveted valley aptly titled “Yarrow Visited” he was pleasantly surprised to see that the place was beyond ingenuity. And he then remarks that the things of reality are far more beautiful than things of imagination. His insatiable quest led him to revisit the valley which he described in “Yarrow Revisited”.
Well pleased that future Bards should chant
For simple hearts thy beauty;
And dearer still,
As now I feel,
To memory’s shadowy moonshine! (William Wordsworth)
And my mind weaves its own lyrics to revisit the Botanical Garden as I know it won’t be long and I will thirst for more.
As the famous adage goes “beauty comes with its own burden” and that stands true in this season of splendour. Piles of fallen leaves gather on the ground, every time a new leaf sprouts. The cycle of life has to go on. The dead leaves make space for the new, and this leads to the cleaning process all around. Huge department stores like Home-Depot, and Lowes, are places to go to get hold of any tools required for the upkeep of one’s home or garden. And the choice is endless and overwhelming at times. Once inside, I quickly pick up my rake and blower to help gather the dead fallen leaves of my yard, and exit the humongous store dwarfed and miniature like, when within it. Now breathing in some sweet fresh spring air and with renewed energy to brush up my garden I venture out of the house. Lo! Behold! I see two big burly guys geared with all the gadgets of clean up, taking care of the vicinity of our community. We pay our Home Owner Association dues each year, and these workers help keep our surroundings clean. But the responsibility for the upkeep of our own little patch of green, remains to be the homeowner’s, and the incentive is the possibility of being the lucky winner of “the Yard of the month” (besides being the neighbours’ envy), an honour bestowed to the owner of the best kept lawn. I start to day dream as I take exhausting breaks and continue to sweep clean. Phew!
The Easter traditions in America mark the arrival of Spring and to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the Easter Festival, one gets to witness parades, carnivals, Easter egg decorations, Easter trees, Easter lambs, their presence and adornments seen in every street corner, churches, shops, and homes. The Easter Bunny symbolizes fertility and new life and tales were told in earlier times of an “Easter Hare” who laid eggs for children to find. Painting the Easter eggs and then conducting Easter egg hunt games for the children is what most parents and recreational centers do on Easter weekend.
Easter celebrations cannot be complete without an extensive feasting. During this jubilant time people in the US binge on Easter delights like baked ham, potatoes, vegetables and homemade delicacies.
Being a traditional and die-hard Assamese myself and I believe, all those thousands of others, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives nestled in Assam’s villages and towns, and those living abroad, in all the corners of this multicultural world, myself and my family included, Spring season is such a delightful time. Our very own Rongali Bihu, plays its “pepa and gogona” in our hearts and minds. I visualize my beautiful Assam during Bihu decked in her traditional best. She awaits for this time of the year, as if in abated breath, to sing, dance and rejoice and set herself free in spiritual abandonment. The wet air of mid- April must feel fresh and tingling by now, the “Kapau Phool” must have hurriedly accessorized the old trees and softened their beauty, the swaying hips of the beautiful “Nasonis” must be moving in perfect rhythm to the loud beating of “dhols” by the youthful and vigourous “Dhooliyas’. The ladies in their kitchens must be toiling hard to perfect the shapes and sizes of mouth-watering “til pithas and narikol laroos”, setting the soft sweet curd in warm care and preparing the “bora rice”. Their flushed faces being so close to the fire preparing the myriad delicacies, must be a small price they willingly pay, secretly smiling to those moments when praises will come showering their way, as family and friends would munch on their magical bites.
The Bihu festival in America is celebrated with deep sentiments and poignant memories, shared alike by all the Assamese living here, the bittersweet outcome of living in an adopted land and on foreign soil. It is usually celebrated on a much awaited weekend which on lucky times corresponds with the days celebrated in Assam. Or else, we have to compromise on the dates as convenient to all. But the thrill and joy and the enthusiasm is the same if not more. Assamese ladies in their respective professions and busy mothers with children take out time from their hectic schedules and successfully make as many and as tasty authentic delicacies as back home. Sometimes it is astounding to see how they do it all. The Day is marked with a whole range of exciting activities from flag-hosting and singing “Sri Moi Asomi” to sports, snacks and lunch. A few hours break leads to the evening cultural extravaganza of singing, dancing, stage performance, recitation, childrens’ show and so much more. Dinner is served early in the evening so that the cultural events go uninterrupted. A lot of hidden talents come into display on such a community platform, where our beloved Assam takes center stage, and beautiful ladies and pretty children, youth and older men, mingle together, in their gorgeous traditional attires. It always turns out to be an evening of special meaning, and great ambience. And as every good thing comes to an end, the hours slip by swiftly but not without a boisterous outbreak of Bihu songs and Bihu dances by all on the dance floor till past mid-night. Nobody is exhausted, nobody wants to leave. But just like Cinderella had to slip away for the conditions that bounded her, so too the exhilarated gathering have to take a reluctant leave to get back to their regular schedule for the next morning. It is then that we are realize, how far away we are from the Mainstream. The river flows but the water is not the same. The air is fresh but it is not as sweet. We are Assamese, but we are not in Assam. The Bihu atmosphere is around us and felt by us, but there is so much we miss. We miss our land and we miss our people, we miss our food and we miss our culture, and we then wonder if we are missed as much. Happy Rongali Bihu to all from our far away land! Joi Ai Axom!