A Visit to Kuzhitura Farm

On Wednesday, I went to Kuzhitura Farm. The farm is a 20 to 30 minute walk south of the ashram. I think I have visited it for five years straight.

When I walked onto the land, I saw two friends weeding a tulasi and basil field.

My attention was then pulled to a form of “spinach” I was introduced to last December. It is so tender and can be eaten either raw or cooked. I loved it so much that I found some seeds in the U.S. and planted them, but they didn’t sprout. I’m going to try again this year even though it probably doesn’t get hot enough in Seattle to grow that type of spinach.

Over the years, the devotees who have worked at this farm have tried various ways of catching and storing water. They had a new method this year. [Note: I was wrong about these tubs being used to catch water. Read I Was Wrong for an update!]

I saw so many beautiful flowers. (Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

In the middle of the property, there was an Amma altar…

… and many other beautiful and interesting sights. Everything grows so fast in the tropics. Some plants that were a foot tall last year or the year before have grown to a height of five feet.

I saw butterflies, birds, and a dragonfly. I tried to take photos to show you but they all moved too fast, so I gave up and looked at them for myself. When I took the time to observe them, I noticed there were at least a dozen types of butterflies. The colors and markings on their bodies were exquisite. Maybe some day you will come here and see them for yourselves!

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

Amritapuri Tulasi Garden

The Tulasi Garden is the first garden I ever visited in Amritapuri. I probably saw it for the first time a decade or more ago. It has changed so much over the years. They have added land and there are so many different kinds of plants there now. Most of the plants are edible.

I really enjoyed my visit to the Tulasi garden last week. These first photos are of the nursery and some newly planted seedlings. (Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

The garden had a banana palm that was at least thirty feet tall. It was twice the size of any I have seen in the past. I also saw several sprouts, the beginning of new banana palms. These photos show various views of banana palms.

I thought this scene of a coconut palm tree was beautiful.

These are old and new papaya trees. The short ones surround the tall one.

There was a wild orchid in the garden.

This is a photo of some of the rudraksha trees…

The seeds that are inside the fruit of a rudraksha tree are sacred. They are often used in making malas. I took these photos of the fruit of rudraksha trees, and the seeds that are inside of them, a few years ago. The second photo was taken at a work station where ashram residents were separating the seeds from the fruit.

Below are photos of other plants I saw in the garden.

And last but not least, I saw this unusual but beautiful tree as I walked back to the main part of the ashram.

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

More Photos of the School of Biotechnology Grounds

I was unsuccessful in locating the photos I took of the School of Biotechnology grounds a few years ago. All I can do is tell you that when I saw it last week, I was astounded by how much some of the shrubs have grown since I saw it back then. The land was beautiful at that time, and it is even more beautiful now. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

Amritapuri Gardens: School of Biotechnology

I took these photos when I was visiting the Amrita University School of Biotechnology. That part of the university is located in Vallikavu, the town across the backwaters from the ashram.

Can you find the bird?

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

Living and Learning in Amritapuri, India: August 21-23, 2017

Saraswati Gardens

I’ve stopped by Saraswati Garden twice since I’ve been in Amritapuri. The plants have grown so much since I left the ashram in January. Some of the marigolds are now six feet tall!

(You can click on the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

Fruit bat

As dusk approached on Tuesday, Kumuda and I were walking down the back stairs of the building where we both live. As we looked below us, we saw a group of people gazing up into a tree. There was also a lot of movement in the tree.

We suspected that they were watching fruit bats. Moments later, bats began flying in and out of the tres. The bats coming towards the tree were carrying round objects that were bright yellow or orange. We wondered if those objects were small oranges. Whenever the ashram elephant is brought to the courtyard on darshan days, devotees buy fruit from the juice stall to feed it. Maybe the devotees were buying oranges for the bats. That explanation seemed far fetched but we had no other.

This was our first view of a bat from the stairs. (It is towards the left side in both pictures. It started opening its wings in the second photo.)

Once we reached the ground, we joined the group who had gathered at the bottom of the tree. I watched one of the fruit bats moving through the tree in a way that reminded me of a monkey. It even looked like it had hands. The video below gives some idea of what I saw.

Crows and Pappadams

At one point during the Tuesday prasad lunch (the day when Amma gives everyone lunch), I looked up and saw six crows perched in a line towards the top of the auditorium. The crows were intently watching the activity below. If one saw an opportune moment, it would swoop down and take a pappadam off of someone’s plate. I saw several crows with partial pappadams in their mouths so maybe they were stealing pappadams from each other as well. When I looked up five or ten minutes later, all of the crows were gone. Perhaps they were feasting on their plunder. (The photo of pappadams came from Wikimedia.)

Café 

Thursday is opening day for the new café. They closed the cafe about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and started moving all the equipment to the new building. I imagine the kitchen staff stayed up most or all of the night putting the new place together. I wanted to help but knew my help would be limited by the splint on my injured wrist.

A story about an Indian squirrel that helped build the Rama Setu bridge kept coming to my mind. I blogged about that story last year:

Many years ago, at the the end of the programs in each city on Amma‘s North American tour, there was an announcement that contained a story about a squirrel who contributed to the building of the Rama Setu bridge. The squirrel participated by rolling in the sand and then going to the end of the bridge and shaking the sand off, chanting the name of Lord Rama throughout the process. It completed this process over and over.

Lord Rama rewarded the squirrel by picking him up and stroking his back. From then on, this type of squirrel had three stripes on its back, stripes that went from head to tail. The stripes are seen as Lord Rama’s fingers. At Amma’s programs, this story was used to teach that everything we do to contribute makes a difference.

I remember thinking that what was called a squirrel in the story must be what we call a chipmunk. Since then, I have learned that the squirrel is a palm squirrel and it the same size as a large chipmunk.

I was determined to find a way to support the effort. I saw that the counters and shelves in the new building were covered with a heavy layer of construction dust. I found a small bucket of water and a rag and started washing down the counters with my good hand. Often there were hoses, boards and other construction materials on the counters. I had to wipe around those, but I was helping! I washed the surfaces for a couple of hours and then had dinner. After dinner I came back and did some more.

When I returned, I discovered a lot of the construction materials had been moved so it was now possible to wash many of the surfaces completely. Also, enough of the dust and other debris had been removed by the first cleaning that we were able to use soapy water with the next round. Soon the beautiful counter tops were in full view. I was so happy to have found a way to help.

On Thursday morning there will be a puja to mark the opening of the new cafe. I will share about that in my next “Living and Learning in Amritapuri” post.

Ganesh sculpture

Ganesh’s birthday celebrations begin this Friday. (Ganesh is the aspect of God who removes obstacles.) The Ganesh statue is being sculpted at the ashram this year. I don’t know where that work is occuring, but I found this photo on the Amritapuri Facebook page. There will be 11 days of celebration and then the statue will be carried to the Arabian Sea, immersed, and the sea will take it.

Rain

There have been many days since I have been in Amritapuri where it has stayed clear all day. In the days surrounding the eclipse, however, it poured many times. I don’t know if there was any relation between the two events, especially since the eclipse was on the other side of the world, but I wondered if that was a possibility. It is so much cooler on days it has rained. I wish it rained every day!

Sunset

Last night, as I was walking towards the building I live in, I noticed that the sky was a brilliant red. I rushed to the elevator and took it to the 14th floor to see if I could see the sunset in its full glory. By the time I got there, however, the sky was no longer red. It was still a beautiful sight though.

Later, I found a photo of the sunset on the Amritapuri Facebook Page. It wasn’t red then either, but the colors were more vivid than when I last saw a few minutes later.

Sunrises and sunsets are so beautiful here. I should make a point of looking at them more often.

Synchroniticy

When I visit Amritapuri, so many synchronous things happen. A really good example of that occurred two days ago. This is the first time I’ve come to India in August in more than a decade. I usually arrive towards the end of  November and stay until January. My main reason for picking that time is the Christmas musical that is performed each year on Christmas Eve.

My daughter writes the scripts and co-directs the plays and my son and his friends compose many of the tunes, provide the instrumentation and work with the singers. I feel so proud of them and wouldn’t want to miss the event. Besides it is such an exciting time to be at the ashram. There is only three weeks time for the actors and dancers to learn their roles and for the costumes, backdrops and many other aspects of the play to be created. The energy at the ashram during that time is electric.

My desire to surprise Sreejit and Chaitanya by showing up at the ashram at a time when they would never suspect I was coming and my desire to participate in the three festivals (Krishna and Ganesh’s birthdays and Onam) won over my  desire to see the play this December. I considered the possibility of coming to India twice but that solution seemed unlikely.

A few days ago, Chaitanya said she hoped I decided to come again for the play. I gave reasons why that wasn’t likely to happen, money being one of them. When I woke up the next morning, there was an email from a neighbor in Seattle saying that she  needed to move out of the house she has lived in for the last ten years and someone had told her that I might rent her a room in my house. She needs a place to stay from October until the second week in January.

I haven’t rented a room to anyone for about five years but it wasn’t lost on me that if I did that, I would have the money I needed to go back to India in December. Also, the person that usually stays in my house when I am traveling may be in India himself this December, so having her living there would be helpful. If those two things weren’t synchronistic enough, this all occurred within a week of me writing a post saying that I needed to work on being more interdependent as opposed to overly-independent. Having a roommate would certainly facilitate that process. What could do but laugh?

I don’t know whether or not she will decide to rent from me, but if she does I will consider coming back to India to see this year’s play.

To view the previous posts in this series click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny

When I think of Ooh, Shiny, I think of:

… flowers in India

… flowers in Seattle

… microscopic photos of flowers

… fruit from my garden

… and Kavita and Meera’s beautiful Navaratri altar

To view the previous posts in this series click here.

My Echinacea Plant is Thriving

Last summer, I purchased my first echinacea plants. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching this one grow. It gets more sun than the other two and the difference is remarkable. One attribute that I find fascinating is that it has blossoms in so many stages of development at the same time. I am also enjoying the fact that the plant has at least four times the number of flowers-in-the-making than it did last year.

None of these flowers are fully developed yet. I look forward to showing you what it becomes. I also am anticipating looking at the flowers under the microscope. The shots I took last year were spectacular.

Daily Prompt: Snack

Last week, I went to Amma’s programs in Chicago and Atlanta. I had been enjoying eating the strawberries from my garden for about two weeks beforehand. When I returned home, I was surprised to see there were still strawberries available, and ripe blueberries as well. In fact, there were more blueberries than there has ever been on that little bush. Together they made a perfect snack.

Snack

Mother Nature’s Creation

I’ve been so involved in the Greenbelt restoration work that I’ve given my front yard garden very little attention. I’m loving how Mother Nature filled in the gap and made it beautiful in her own way.

For the last few years I have planted five or six pansies in the garden. Occasionally one has come back after the winter. This year, though, pansies of all colors have sprung up throughout the garden. There are so many of them! It seems so strange since that has never happened before.

Many of the blooms are withering but the combination of  colors are still beautiful.

I had an early bloom on one of the squash plants……..

…. but so far there isn’t any squash. The plants seem healthy but I haven’t seen both male and female blooms on any variety and I haven’t seen any bees. I will hand fertilize when that becomes possible.

The Lazy Susan plant and the Echinacea plants have buds. I look forward to seeing their flowers.

There is a seemingly endless supply of lemon balm and peppermint.

Thank you Mother Nature for all that you do for me, and for the world. You are a paragon of compassion and an artist that has no equal.

 

 

Blossom

Create

Paragon

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Good Match

Every time I thought about “A Good Match,” my mind went back to a 2013 photo. I felt a sense of fascination when I first saw this tromboncino squash…. and I am still fascinated by it. To me it is the epitome of a good match.

squash

Tromboncino squash are considered summer squash and are used in the same way as zucchini.

What I find most interesting about this form of squash, though, is that if you allow it to continue to grow, it will turn into a winter squash. In that process, it changes color and the skin becomes hard. The inside becomes sweet and reminds me of acorn squash. I really love eating it at that point.

I also love how big the squash grows. This one was five feet long!

20131013_124712

(I took the photo above by taking a picture of myself in a mirror. My arms weren’t long enough to take it facing me. Besides, in 2013, I probably didn’t even know what a selfie was!)