My Grandpas house situated at the countryside was surrounded by tall majestic trees of all varieties from oak, maple and weeping willow to fruit bearing trees like plum and cherry. Since my childhood I was quite used to having trees in our surroundings. There were two kinds of trees that were of special interest to me, the trees that were good for climbing and trees that provided fruits. The tall willow tree was a good tree to sit beneath during summers. The leaves, sensitive to the slightest breeze would be flapping gently when the clouds were standing still.
The oak tree at my grandpas place grew behind the house and spreading its branches which hung to the ground and took root again, formed a number of twisting passageways which gave me endless pleasure. The tree was older than the house, older than my grandparents, and perhaps as old as the town where my grandparents lived. The tree was so huge that I could hide behind its branches, behind thick green leaves and peek at the world below. I could read in it too, propped up against a sturdy branch with feet dangling, with Treasure Island, David Copperfield, and other English comics like Wizard or Asterix.
The oak tree was a world in itself, populated with small insects, and birds. While the leaves were still pink, they would be visited by delicate map butterflies. During the fall season, the oak tree came to life with the branches thick with acorns. Squirrels, which were otherwise not much seen in the vicinity of grandpas compound, would frolic around the oak tree with gleeful abandon and gather acorns at lightning speed.
Even tiny long beaked birds used to frequent the oak tree and pecked at the acorns with steady rhythmic sound. I always marveled at the hub of activities centered on a tree and considered myself to be among the privileged few who could witness such magnificent spectacle. One of my favorite trees at the grandpas was the plum tree. When its red blood fruit ripened, I would feast on the sweet succulent fruit until my lips and cheeks stained bright red. My grandmother would collect the ripe plums in baskets and make bottles of delicious jam. The taste of the plum cake she prepared from the juicy fruits would be etched in my memory forever.
The margosa tree which was a medicinal tree gifted to my grandpa by one of his Indian friend, was somehow a rarity in the neighborhood, which shed its small yellow berries, and as they were crushed by passing feet, they gave off a strong sweet smell. My grandpa used to tell me that this is because the margosa gives out more oxygen than most trees. Its leaves were a pale green, and their fresh shiny texture would be any photographers delight. I would just watch the tree with new tender leaves, and wonder at gods marvelous gift to mankind.
The giant maple tree in my grandpas courtyard, as I remember was about 100 ft tall, standing majestically in the sprawling courtyard. What I liked to observe was the shape of the maple leaves. Grandpa enlightened me about different varieties of maple leaves such as three, five, seven or nine leaflet varieties. The one in grandpas courtyard was a five leaflet variety. I distinctly remember the riot of orange bloom of maple flowers during late winter or early spring.
When the maple bloomed in spring, the whole air was filled with its sweet scent and bees would swarm around the flowers with their synchronous buzzing to collect nectar. The weeping willows looked like dwarf as compared to the maple tree. Their short stocky trunk and hanging willowy leaves used to swing like pendulum in breeze. Many a times, I was tempted to jump and catch a hanging willow so that I could swing like Tarzan, the ape-man. But my grandpa never encouraged me to try out my little act of bravery. Even now whenever I see a weeping willow, I feel the urge to take a swing.
My grandpa instilled in me a love for trees which has remained with me throughout my growing years. Staying at grandpas place with all the greenery surrounding the sprawling compound always gave me a new high and when I returned home from grandpas after vacation, I would lovingly plant the saplings that I would bring from grandpas place and nurture those as if they were my own children. Thanks to my perseverance and good care, the trees have grown into significant height and our house is an object of neighbors envy now.
Sometimes I feel that trees are as sensitive as the human beings. I have noticed that when grandpa had cared to nurture a particular plant with a lot of affection, it also blossomed with vibrant foliages and radiant flowers. The trees that were most cared for were also the ones endowed with loads of fruits. I could also observe with much surprise that the trees planted by our neighbours could hardly match the growth and productivity of the tree grown from the same sapling through the loving and caring hands of grandpa, as if they could sense all the affection bestowed by those frail hands. As if they wanted to give back all the warmth and love showered upon them! Today the world needs trees badly as never before. Trees are the answer to the looming threat of global warming and climate change.
The beauty of the world would be so much enhanced if our world becomes greener. From my childhood experience, I can feel how trees in our surroundings makes the atmosphere tranquil, and at the same time let us reap the joy of listening to the chirping of birds, and of buzzing of insects when flower blooms. Treeless surroundings would mean depriving ourselves and our children the unique feeling of being associated with nature and unbridled joy that one experience through it. Trees can give immense joy to ones soul and in this age of constant work pressure, living in a green surrounding can sooth ones jagged nerves and distress ones life. I strongly feel that one dont have to go to some exotic location to understand the essence of nature.
Modern days work stress and related ailments can to a great extent be eliminated if only people have a think green, act green attitude. Nature can calm our jittery nerves, and hyperactive brain. One doesnt have to frequent a spa, or oxygen clinic to have the benefit nature has to offer. One can indulge and fill their lungs with natures bountiful oxygen and stay in beautiful green surroundings to feel truly exhilarated and recharged. Greenery instills in us something inherently good which I feel and can vouch that others will feel too.