Saturday, 13 December 2014

Of Lemons And Leopards

I live in a place which gives me the feeling of staying in a forest resort, all year long. Trees, birds, flowers...Yesterday, this awesome Hornbill paid a visit to my garden, where I was lounging on my bean bag, paying close attention to the surrounding sounds. In the past week or so, I am enjoying my time in the garden less and paying more attention to the surrounding details. Care to know why? Read on..
 As soon as winters arrived in these parts, it became an integral part of my routine to spend some leisure time in the garden, preferably with a piece of knitting and a cup of tea. Though this place is really cold, with snow capped mountains in view, the sun shines blindingly bright and sharp in the clear azure sky.
 So, my current project-in-the-garden is this bright red sweater for my sister. It has been years since she has been pestering me for one. Finally I gave in and started this project which I hope to finish soon so that she can wear it this winter.
I often sit facing the 'galgal' lemon tree that is in the corner, the one with yellowing leaves. The reason of sitting in this particular direction is that then the sun shines on my back and that is the best way to enjoy the warmth of sun. 
A few days ago, the tree was bearing glorious lemons. I would sometimes go under the tree and try to count the gorgeous fruits. There were almost a dozen of them. Nearly a month ago, when the fruits were still there, I had clicked this picture, standing under the tree.
 I did not know much about the usage of such humongous citrus fruits. Once some friends visited and told me that they can be used in cooking and in cocktails etc. Then we brought one inside and sampled it. 
A few days later, when I found some fruits missing, I got all of the remaining fruits picked and sent a few over to friends. I used the rest of them in place of regular lemons.

This area is surrounded by dense forests and there are wild animals and birds in plenty. The most spotted ones in and around my colony are wild boars and leopards. Attacks on pets and small children are not unheard of. My house is in an extreme corner and the forest touches the garden fence. I am always careful, especially with Coco, and never leave him alone outside the house.

It was a pleasantly sunny morning the next day after I posted about lovely butterflies in my garden. It seems one particular big cat took offense at not even once being mentioned here and butterflies getting all the 'lime'light. Notice the white pole on the right hand side in the picture taken from under the lemon tree. It was there, standing on the wall behind the pole. I was getting ready to go somewhere when my husband's buddy called out 'Memsaab, tiger.' I rushed out and there it was. Finally, I saw it in broad daylight, clearly and very close. I had seen a leopard once during these monsoons, resting on a dry spot, some distance away from the residential area, and the next time when it was caught in a trap in the forest, both the times, vaguely and from far away. This was the real deal. The first word that came to mind was 'beautiful'. By the time I could think of getting my phone to click a photo, it turned and vanished into the forest behind. 

Since that day, I cannot sit quietly in the garden as I am always watchful. Even falling dry leaves get me all worked up as I do not want to share my lounging time with uninvited guests.

The next day, a teenager was attacked by a leopard in the neighboring colony.

The above image was shared on whatsapp a few weeks ago by a friend. The leopard was resting on the wall in front of her house for almost an hour. 

Leopard attacks have become quite frequent these days in and around Dehradun in Uttarakhand.