Anyway, my parents' Arecanut farm is adorned with a colourful flower garden bordering the house, a vegetable garden full of seasonal veggies like red pumpkins, okra, long beans and greens, and a fruit orchard .. bearing many fruits like the fig, chiku, pineapple, banana, guava..with it's star attraction being the jam fruit tree! With almost all it's branches sprouting the juicy "Jamnerele", as it's known in the local language, our tree offers a fun summer- time activity especially for kids and believe me, no visitor leaves Shristi without embarking on a fruit picking adventure, plucking the white and pink fruits off its branches and filling their baskets with as many as they can reach!:-) And to think that we used to pay for this sort of fruit picking activity in the US now sounds unreal!
Dedicating this post to the painstaking efforts of my parents in creating what has become our nature summer retreat .. we read Ruskin Bond's "The Cherry Tree" which was originally a part of his short story collection titled " The Night Train at Deoli and other stories", now has been converted into this little book for young readers by Puffin publications. I needn't say any more about Ruskin Bond's narrative that turn a simple story into a magical and a moving tale with an old world charm to it but the Cherry tree brings about an amazing intermingling of nature's various elements with the transitioning human world!
The story traces six year old Rakesh's joint venture with his retired forest ranger grandpa of growing a Cherry tree in their back yard in lower Himalayan region that starts with Rakesh casually planting a Cherry seedling, only to be pleasantly surprised to find small twig with a leaf sticking out of the stony ground next spring. As Rakesh excitedly begins to nurture it with the aid of his grandpa, the little twig grows into a small tree, braving all odds ranging from a hungry goat, a woman grass cutter to a caterpillar. Finally as he celebrates his ninth birthday along with his friends around the tree, the Cherry tree gifts him with its first pink blossoms followed by the season's first fruit! Read on as during the next few seasons, as Rakesh grows taller, and his grandpa grows older, how amongst all the greenery of the hills, their day-to-day life revolves around the most special tree amongst all - the Cherry tree. Beautifully brought alive by its vivid illustrations by Manoj A Menon "The Cherry tree" is a must read for any young reader to understand how life can be do much enriched by one's natural surroundings- just as how we enjoy the beauty of our farm "Shristi"!