Sunday, July 08, 2012

Pests, Weeds, Paulo Coelho and Me

I have a daily chore called மொட்டைக்கு சந்தனம் போடும் வேலை - roughly translates to "Applying Sandal paste to a tonsured head".  This is to water the plants on the terrace.  The plants in our garden have less exposure to the hot sun and so it is enough that they are watered twice a week.  But the ones on the terrace have direct exposure to the sun for about 6-7 hours.   The soil gets dry by the night.  So, it is mandatory that the plants are watered everyday.

During peak summer, the rose plants went through a depression, and so not much of blossoms.  Arali (Nothapodytes nimmoniana) likes summer, was on full bloom.  After a few days after the first flower, I started observing tiny yellow spots on the arali buds.  The tender shoots were sticky too.  I left the sticky flowers alone and plucked the ones that were dry and clean.  After a few days, the yellow spots turned white.  I figured that the yellow spots were eggs of some tiny insect.  Once they are hatched, the egg drains and the white shells are left behind by the young insect.

I could see nature's brilliance in the whole process.  There isn't a safer cooler place than the shoots of a plant that is in full bloom.  If I hadn't observed, I would have missed the beauty of it.  Once I observed, I didn't feel like cleaning up the the plant by spraying pesticides on it.  And the pest was nice to the plant as well.  It didn't damage the plant, but just prevented me from plucking the flower that was sticky and spotted.

Paulo Coelho had the same dilemma with the weeds in his garden (Like the flowing river).  The Gita came to his help for clarity on actions.  It came to my help as well.  Had I been a gardener, my responsibility would have been to clean up the plant with pesticides.  Had I been an entomologist, I would have observed the pests and studied them.

I'm neither; my responsibility is to water the plants and I stop at that.  I don't take away the weeds, I don't spray pesticides, I won't affect anything beyond what I need to.

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