Monday, July 18, 2011

A fistful of nature

“Mamma, I found this in the garden and thought of you.”

How often has he stood there excitedly clutching a fistful of  blossoms or seed pods in his tiny hand?

This might be a cry that goes back to antiquity…a boy-man dragging a gift of a carcass of a woolly mammoth, or a perhaps deer or two hunted down and brought back to the cave? I’m glad I’m living in  present times, and not in those hunter-gatherer days…( for one thing, we would have needed a bigger refrigerator). Instead those traits are honed down to urban magpie tendencies, usually restricted to natural objects of interest to him, and that might be of interest to me.  

We have grown together, mother and son, walking hand in hand, just breathing and absorbing life. No speech is necessary.  It’s no surprise that we begin to think automatically of each other’s likes and dislikes, of wishing that the other was there to see what we see. Even the concrete pathways are no deterrent. Windfall seed pods and blossoms, trails made by unhurried slugs, black ants, leaves eaten away by water and wind to leave fragile skeletons - even the urban jungle has plenty for those who also stand and wait.

There’s always something to look at, pick up and examine, possibly bring back home from our rambles in Delhi and elsewhere.  At one point I realized that he has to understand that although nature is our backyard, it’s not our personal property to do as we will. That’s when I gently explained that even though I bring natural objects home, I try to restrict myself to a fistful, less if possible, but not more than that. It seemed like a reasonable enough rule of the “fist”  that he could comprehend at this age.

This time around, it was small windfall buds of the silk cotton tree that he proffered. Possibly inspired by the jewellery exhibition we had been to, he suggested I could make something like a necklace out of them. Although these were fresh soft buds when he brought them in, I lingered (like I always do) over them for too long, so eventually they could not be pierced.

Here is what emerged.

Dried windfall buds of the silk cotton tree.

A pendant made with camel-dung paper. Camel wool in two natural colours was used to suspend one silk cotton bud in the centre of the pendant, and as a cord for the necklace. It was a happy coincidence that the shades of the camel wool matched perfectly with the two coloured buds.

Another view of the pendant. If I had worked with fresh buds, I could have pierced a hole and strung it. Instead, I had to use the camel wool to bind the bud.