The shadows’ call

Touring the shadows of this home
I see, I made some
I fade some
And I be them all.

When the light is right
Shadows are bright
And together at night
We fight the pall.

Ishita. October 22 2020.

I wrote this poem for my friend, on one of those days the shadows resembled us the most.

Her dying tree

Our golden rain tree
He had been dying a while
Harboring decay
From roots to tile
Curly fungi grew in rows on a stem
Most of the branches
Had no leaves on them..
Still it flowered a few more springs
Its pods dangling through fall..
On one of its tallest dead branches
A mockingbird delighted to call

He noticed the new lady in the house
Give his twisted trunk
A careful browse
He heard her grumbling on
about the million black and red bugs
The ones that mated
Joined at their butts
They did grow in his pods
But what could he do?
Life does defy odds..

For sometime she came out often
Talked to the birds
Chased the dragonflies
Became somewhat a gardener
After much toil and tries.

Later, he wished he could
Tell her, look, I’m half dead
But life’s good.
My trunk grows hollow
So the bugs bore
The woodpeckers love them
It’s makes a good store!
I have few leaves
But my branches still hold
Brooding fledglings
After their mom’s scold.

Last year the winds
Blew hard, but out of this way
I heard a lot of my old pals
Couldn’t hold their sway
That night spared me
And I’m glad I stayed..
Though some years lost grace
I see you smiling again
That smile can light up this place.

I saw her one last time
As I lay sighing my last
Too tired even for a weak storm
My time had gone past
I whispered to her, hush..
My friend, I'll bid farewell with a laugh
As I am not in pain:
You’ve called me boxelder
All these years, in vain
Elder I was, but my name
Is Golden Rain.

September 30 2020.

I realized my tree was a golden rain tree the day he fell, gently.I don't know what prompted me to look up his name again, because for years I called it a box elder tree.. So I think he wanted me to know! I have watched young robins, cardinals being fed on the tree. Woodpeckers did indeed love it. After our neighbors cut off their dangerously tall, also dead, tree earlier this year, this was the only dead or dying tree in the near vicinity. Birds have long memories of familiar trees, they visit and perch on them and also eat the bugs that inhabit the trunks. I Hope they will still know this lawn when they come back next year. 

There’s nowhere to go

There’s nowhere to go

Would you still have dreams
Of love
Will there still be streams 
Or cove
If there was,
Nowhere to go. 

Would you still hope
Of joy
Will there be scope
Or ploy
To be better, when,
There was nowhere to go

Would you remember that time
Stood still
Stunned, I took to rhyme
And quill
Till there was
Nowhere to go

I am there now. 

Ishita. August 24. 
Falling into fall. 

Art 2020

A little on art this year, as a post even if I am cataloging most of my art work under projects in my art portfolio on this blog as well.

This year I visited India and made new contacts with nature enthusiasts, some professional conservationists furthering the cause of wildlife conservation through political campaigning. Being someone who always accepts their real reaction to significant events rather late.. ( perhaps because my subconscious is way more powerful and obscure than my consciousness) I was only to realize what a extraordinary trip this was going to be later, but this time, not too late (one hopes). In terms of its repercussions.. or what I hope will be the repercussions. I also went to show support to the women of Shaheen Bagh, now famous worldwide to lead a peaceful protest against GOI’s discriminatory CAA (citizenship ammendment act) and NRC. I felt kinship to the women sitting at the camp, that was supported by artists like Shubha Mudgal, writers, poets and professors who went on stage to explain the constitution as experts. The rights guaranteed by the constitution to every citizen, and how CAA is anti-constitutional. It is not clear to many Indians how the government can pass unconstitutional laws, even if it is quite a mainstream subject in the US. In India it is generally assumed that the government is lawful, and more so in these times of extreme nationalism when you are either with the government or anti-national. At any rate, somehow this minor (negligible) participation in something significant made me want to do make more negligible contributions to significant things that make my heart feel at peace with the world. Because it is in the right place, with the right people even if both the place and the people are under threat.

As witnessed in this blog and by my friends, I have gravitated towards being a conservationist for several years now, while continuing to use my “academic” training. Since last year I became more closely involved with the Sutton Avian research center in town, which is a very small (in terms of personnel) center pursuing breeding and reintroduction of at least three types of game-birds and separately conducting breeding studies in Oklahoma.So, coming back from India and with my continued and increasing awareness of phenomenal researchers and conservationists working in India, I find myself in the middle of a pandemic, and waiting to go back to India. As the Indian government make naught of forest protection acts, sentencing pristine, global diversity hotspots to destruction, like by (nearly approving) the construction of the Etalin dam in the Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh or by the approval of coal mining in Dehing Patkai elephant reserve in Assam, I feel more drawn towards wanting to make a meaningful contribution. To somehow make concrete my connection to the Indian wild. Somewhere I have never really been, but I know I must try to see if it will have me.

Most of these drawings are not of India species, but everyone needs to practice somewhere, and if I may ask for your wishes to help me get to somewhere I can use this practice.

Other artwork from this series is also here in my blog.

A time to relive through RUe (roux)

Top. One of the exclusive old bar rooms, at the Remoulade (the ones who invented the sauce).
Bottom. The chandeliered dining room at the remoulade, where patrons go their names on the wall, to hold their place

While there is a lot to think about Covid19 it self and write, both of which I am doing or have done, I won’t be writing much about it in this post. Today it’s time to rue the time we were in New Orleans and going around the oldest restaurant streets, in a food tour. I have been cooking for many years now (but I don’t want to count),I am enough of an existentialist to be a gourmet cook. And I had never heard of Roux until September 2019. So, that means unlike researching every thing about modeling, vaccines, treatments, policies that are needed to combat Sars-CoV2, I don’t even know where to look for food knowledge, even if my foodie friends have tried to direct me to TV shows, but I have not been compelled. It is much nicer to go to a place they make food a divinity. NOLA is certainly one of those places. Roux is a french sauce that can be the base of any type of seafood, meat stew. It is basically equal parts oil (plain/white) and flour and constant stirring, because if one doesn’t, it will burn. People make large pots of it and store. Our cooking demonstrator had a way of measuring how long it takes: the number of wine glasses she has had. The lighter (white or blond) roux is for seafood chowders, soups and darker for meat gumbos. The darker one takes her 3-5 wine glasses.

Tujague’s bar.. oldest in the US.

Then she told us about holy trinity, the basis of creole food: Onion, Celery and Green Pepper. We met our food tour guide at Tujagues, the second oldest restaurant in the world, with the oldest bar in the US (brought over from France over 200 years ago).This restaurant can claim to have had a previous owner, Elizabeth, Kettenring Dutrey Begue (whose descendants combined two old restaurants)who invented Brunch at around 11, a second breakfast, to feed people who worked through very early morning at the french market. She told us creole just means a mixture of cultures, which Nola is: that of the German Catholics, the Africans (who brought with them, Okra and rice, now a staple in Louisiana cuisine), French of course and Spanish. And if this wasn’t enough of a mixture, a simpler mix is Cajun: developed by the French canadians who settled in the wilderness, which includes chilies from native americans. Cajun is boudin sausages for example, and gumbo is creole. During Prohibition, these old restaurants continued to serve alcohol under the covers or behind in one of their labyrinthine rooms, and even invented drinks like Grass Hopper. Antoine’s the oldest restaurant in America is also in the french quarter, I had the famous sazerac from their bar. The classy restaurants had serious owners who started the business, some decadent descendants like Germaine Wells who had so many Mardi gra ball outfits they made a museum, which understandably led to many hardships that they survived through donations by rich patrons. Sometimes the patrons may have been the mafia, like the Brossard’s, where we tastes croquetes. From Pralines, to muffalata and creole mustard, from Po boys, for the ‘poor boys’: which is a sandwich with french bread, even if it just has onions, it is still a Po Boy, but usually it is stuffed, to the hurricane, NOLA has invented food and drink for the masses. Even while catering to the elite, under resplendent chandeliers and upscale bars, the culture of NOLA is inclusion, creole and warm plus cajun and hot. As the city , as many in the country, fights off the virus, I hope everyone I met is safe. I regret forgetting their names, but their warmth has left a glow within.

Connections need souls.. is it possible that some cities refresh our souls, we connect better in those?