The self asks me who I am

The pomegranate tree symbolizes wealth. The oak tree stands alone with dignity for strength. The pine tree speaks of eternal love and the willow tree is a water-loving tree that symbolizes regeneration and signifies emotional balance.


The self asks me who I am is written by Nazik al-Mala’ika. I have archived it from ‘I am’, Women of the Fertile Crescent: An Anthology of Modern Poetry by Arab Women. Edited and translated by Kamal Boullata, a Palestinian artist and art historian.

That discomfort that you are feeling. Its a sign that its a time to grow. Do it compeltely. Do less. Live simply.

I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put in words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.

Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

There once was a Willow, and he was very old,
And all his leaves fell off from him, and left him in the cold;
But ere the rude winter could buffet him with snow,
There grew upon his hoary head a crop of mistletoe.
All wrinkled and furrowed was this old Willow’s skin,
His taper finger trembled, and his arms were very thin;
Two round eyes and hollow, that stared but did not see;
And sprawling feet that never walked, had this most ancient tree.
~Julianna Horatia Ewing, “The Willow Man”

In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy The Lord of the Rings, Old Man Willow is a malign tree-spirit of great age in Tom Bombadil’s Old Forest, appearing physically as a large willow tree beside the River Withywindle, but spreading his influence throughout the forest.


The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us.

The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.

John Muir

Thank you for reading.

The Detailed Analysis Of Ancient Banyan Trees Of Old Clifton Road, Karachi

TREE PROFILE:
Common Names:
Banyan tree, Indian Fig tree
Scientific Names: Ficus benghalensis
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Local Names: Barghad ka darakht, bohr, barh
Origin: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh


These ancient banyan trees have been granted to us in all bountiful ways by nature. This is nearly a perfect test of our being in the right temper of mind and way of life so that anyone who loves trees enough, would know about them in their full glory.

I am talking about these banyan trees of old Clifton in fondness which transforms the continuance of physical spacetime into moments.

I recently came to know about this unique wonder of nature while scrolling down some posts from a Facebook group. The name of the group is In Defence Of Trees. It is Almas Mehmood who first shared these photos entitling old faithful banyan trees of Clifton and then I decided that it’s an ideal time for me to document these marvelous living miracle of nature.

Where these Banyan trees are located?

1. For this, you have to visit Karachi. You can easily locate these Banyan trees at Shahrah-e-Iran road in old Clifton Karachi, Pakistan.

2. It is an area of the city that was developed in the 19th century. It was those days when Henry Bartle Frere was appointed chief commissioner of Sindh. In 1850, he took advantage of the opportunities granted to him of further developing the city.

“It was said that he even pensioned off the dispossessed amirs, improved the harbour at Karachi, where he also established municipal buildings, a museum and barracks, instituted fairs, multiplied roads, canals and schools.”

The banyan trees were planted in abundance along the roadsides initially to please the Hindu community at that time because of their religious affiliation with these trees. It was the time of great mutiny.

What is special about these Banyan Trees?

3. It all happened when Karachi’s Natural Heritage Association decided to take a visionary step due to some concerned reasons.

They intentionally, marked and preserved about 68 banyan trees in the old Clifton area only. Here’s the proof.

Thankfully, I found these additional photos via Twitter while browsing about them.

4. City authorities have declared all banyan trees as protected heritage in order to prevent them from being mercilessly chopped off. Source

There I found out that they even rehabilitated an old banyan tree.

Furthermore, the provincial environment department has started preserving 68 old Banyan trees to protect them from vandalism. Source.

This is a great initiative by the government of Sindh of saving heritage trees from immediate extinction. And in this way giving more power to old trees so that they can thrive in full bloom.

5. Don’t you think it’s an amazing fact that some of these trees are believed to be 100 years old or more?

But unfortunately, now these trees are facing the threat of becoming extinct. The reasons are so many to consider: Some think that this is due to the skyrocketing developmental projects in the area. And some cleverly put all the blame on the negligence of the local community.

The detailed analysis of these ancient banyan trees of Karachi

Now here comes the fun part and my favorite activity of documenting trees.

Picture 1.

At first, if you glance closely at this tree it seems as they have branches almost everywhere. The branches are unusually long and they have a power to grow and spread at great distances.

It’s unfortunate to see this tree in such drastic conditions. Banyans are native to and thrive best in India and Pakistan. These days, variations of the majestic trees can be found almost everywhere in the world.

The best way to care for them is to give them plenty of space and warm, wet, humid weather. It seems that this tree is already enjoying the view but the debris around this tree is worrisome.

This tree has shed an ample amount of green leaves. Why so? They usually shed their leaves in a dormant/ off season when the temperature of the area dramatically drops.

The banyan is a decidous evergreen tree and it doesn’t shed all it’s leaves at the same time.

The term deciduous means it will shed its leaves annually. Evergreen in the sense that the leaves will remain vibrant green even in winter season unlike other autumn trees.

I think when the picture was taken, it might be the autumn season or the end of the winter season as it is partly covered with leaves.

They will regrow their green leaves when the weather warms up. Banyan trees usually shed their leaves in the dry season to retain the moisture.

It is planted near a building, driveway or a street. It can be easily identified by its aerial roots.


Picture 2:

Wow, simply wow! This picture is best to determine at which time of the day it is photographed.

The shadow casts by these trees depend on many factors such as the time of day, location, a particular season, and shape of the trees.

If the sun is to the north of the tree then the shadow will cast on the opposite side of the tree that is to the south.

One of the most attractive aspects of any tree is the shadow it casts. Seeing the shadow its casting say eternity. The hot summer day. Birds are loving the shade. It is 12 o clock when the sun is accurately above the trees. I can be wrong.

It should be noted that the longest shadows occur at the sun rise and sunset. It is hard to determine the time of the day at that angle. But my guess is that it must be noon or afternoon time when the picture has been taken.

I can see a crow nearby. Can you? Here it should be mentioned that some native birds like crow and common myna dispersed the seeds of banyan trees. They are abundantly found near those trees which have a dense canopy.

This trees along the road indicates that they are really in bad postures. The concrete pavement has limited the spread of these trees and they have leaned themselves towards one side because of lack of support.


Picture 3:

The main trunk of this tree is not visible as the aerial roots have grown around the trunk.

Older banyan trees are characterized by aerial prop roots that mature into thick, woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the primary trunk with age.

This tree is not laterally spreading over a wide area. The roots have been damaged due to debris and stones.

Ficus benghalensis produces propagating roots which grow downwards as aerial roots. Once these roots reach the ground they grow into woody trunks.

If this tree is given ideal conditions it can easily develop lateral branches and can spread to large distances. This is my favourite banyan tree so far. The tree has already uprooted the pavement. The debris of the fallen leaves has increased the fertility of the soil. It is damp and moist.

The fruits and seeds produced by these tree are eaten by birds such as common myna and crows as they can been seen around.

Rumour has it that the fig seeds which pass through the digestive system of these birds are more likely to germinate and sprout earlier.

Picture 4:

This is a classic example of the strangler fig. The main trunk is somewhere lost in that twirling pattern.

Can you see the prop up roots? Can you locate the common myna nearby?

The hanging branches has decided to curl up around the tree. Sadly some branches have been cut down so that they can’t reach the ground.

Picture 5:

Picture 6:

My heart is bleeding for that tree. The concrete pavement is restricting the growth.

Pictures 5 and 6 are of the same tree. My blind guess.


Picture 7:

Now this tree is like a mini forest of its kind. The banyan tree is right among the largest living trees in the world by canopy coverage. My observation says this tree is the same as in picture 1 but here the picture is taken from the front angle instead of being photographed from the sides.

I am ending this article here because initially my attention is not to write a lengthy post. These are entirely my views, so can be wrong and inaccurate. Thank you for reading, though. Do comment please!

Sources:

Facebook post

Arabnews

About Sir Henry Bartle

The Banyan trees of old Clifton past and possible future/samaa

Banyan trees declared protected heritage in Karachi

Oyeyeah/ Karachi Banyan trees


Today I read: About a beautiful garden

Sometimes it is so difficult to give an appropriate title to a post that I reluctantly write.

The draft session of my blog is full of unfinished stories. I am currently writing about the ancient banyan trees of old Clifton. My speed is slow. I can be easily distracted by thousands of things in my surroundings.

I am also getting timely inspiration from Quora groups. There’s recently in Quora I happened to stumble upon a question that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The question was unique in that sense it was about a beautiful garden…

In a beautiful garden, there is a lonely tree that produces very tasty fruit. Can you guess the fruit?

That’s a very poetic question and the person who asked this also happens to give a stunning explanation.

Here’s a screenshot that I manage to take for reviewing it here.

A pomegrante tree illustration by Walter Crane

I am not good at narrating a story but my quick response was something like…

If I have to illustrate a garden where there is only a lonely tree that tastes heavenly then I would like to take you back to my childhood days where I have left so many memories of beautiful trees behind.

Here, I would like to mention that I am from a South Asian background. And the climate was very hot where I used to live.

This means there was plenty of sunlight and the soil was also good in those old times. In summer with the arrival of the monsoon season, it used to rain a lot continuously for days. (Plenty of water as well)

We used to have a small garden in our house. My father is an ardent lover of fruit trees and he used to plant a variety of plants and vegetables in our old house.

There was right in the middle of our courtyard lies a lonely tree. Sometimes it came into my dreams and put me in a nostalgic state for days. It was a white variety of the pomegranate tree. They tasted very sweet and juicy. It was a very tall and shady tree.

Birds of all kinds were regular visitors of that tree. I remembered a pair of parrots frequently visiting this tree. Not to forget about bees with their buzzing sounds always defending their territory. They had built a hive there and considered the pomegranate tree as their home. I dread to go near that tree because of them. I was just a little school girl back then.

It was lonely in that sense there were no other pomegranate trees nearby to give him company.

Life goes on and we moved to another house but the love for pomegranate trees never dies. We also planted a pair of pomegranates in our new house. Hope I didn’t bore you lol.

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading and enjoying this post.


Also read: It’s a pomegranate time


Sources:

Quora post

Pomegranate illustration

Walter Crane
1845-1915
A Pomegranate Tree. Verso: Fragmentary sketches of two figures
1872
Watercolor and opaque watercolor, over black chalk, on paper; verso: black chalk.


The survival of an heritage tree

This picture recently receives my attention on the social media platform. It happens when a person by the name Hamayun Mughal shared this image with a local gardening group on Facebook and it awestruck me since then.

The battle of the survival of the heritage and tree

I was stunned to find this kind of tree that has embedded its roots deep in the walls of a neglected building. Out of curiosity, a little research on it reveals that it is a Haveli (mansion) Sujan Singh which is located in the overcrowded market of Bhabhra Bazar, Rawalpindi.

It was built in the early 1890s by a wealthy businessman Rai Bahadur Sujan Singh in the Colonial era.

The haveli was built to resemble a royal palace with a majestic golden throne and bedrooms with original ivory furniture. In the various courtyards dancing peacocks were kept to dance during the evening and a pet tiger was kept which regularly walked the corridors.

Wikipedia

It might be a spell-binding place in the olden days but now some parts of the haveli have been badly demolished, with collapsed roofs and termite-ridden walls further damaging the place. Hence, the building has been left to crumble and rot with time.

But then this happened…

But then this happened, nature decided to take over the entire place with its own leafy interwoven pattern.

Can you see the place craftily overtaken by self-grown plants and trees of different sizes and types!
It is recognized as a heritage site by the government of Pakistan.

This is presuming a heritage tree because it has ecological and cultural value. It has beautifully embedded itself in a place that is recognized as a heritage site by the government of Pakistan.


This kind of tree takes pleasure in its transformations. It looks familiar, quiet, and consistent in its appearances, but few of us know how much wisdom and insight this kind of tree endures inside its roots. It is freaking sober and relaxes where it is supposed to be.


Here let us redefined a heritage tree:

  • A heritage tree is defined as a tree of cultural, biological, ecological, or historical concern depending upon its age, size, or condition.
  • They are often among the oldest living things in the country.
  • They are found in native forests, historic parks, farms, and estates of a country.
  • They are usually along roadsides and in agricultural fields and sometimes find in the middle of residential areas or development sites.
  • There is a need to preserve these trees for ecological and economic reasons.

What kind of tree it is?

This is a peepal tree which is one of the most beloved trees in the South Asian community.

There is a need to understand that native trees are highly aggressive and invasive while having an innate ability to spread almost anywhere.

This tree might be 10-20 years old or younger. It’s spread slowly but steadily when given ideal surroundings.

It’s a symbol of strength, morale, resistance and knowledge.

Throughout history, the peepal tree has been represented in different mythologies and sometimes linked to powerful gods. The peepal tree is considered a cosmic storehouse of wisdom comprised of tremendous strength. It grows slowly, but surely at its rate.

Are you wondering from where this tree is obtaining nourishment and overall strength?

  • Many factors are responsible for its growth such as an abundance of light is essential for photosynthesis, a process by which a plant manufactures its food.
  • The tree roots are well anchored and ingrained deeply requiring both organic and inorganic nutrients from the building.
  • The bricks are mostly wet and damp. So, you can see that the tree is receiving moisture from the rainwater and the structure itself.

Final thoughts:

I have heard that restoration work is in progress to revive this old-time architectural wonder. My only concern is that they don’t cut down this tree. I understand it must be a challenging task for them to preserve this historical site. Let’s hope for the best.

Sources:

Image courtesy: Facebook group post by Humayun Mughal

Haveli Sujan Singh


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Mango – A wish granting tree (Part 2)

Interesting facts about mango trees

For centuries, mango trees are symbolized in South Asian countries as wish-granting trees. This is part 2 of the Mango – A wish-granting tree mini-series.

If you have missed the previous section, then you can read about part 1 here:

Mango – A wish-granting tree (Part 1)

Let’s find out the mythical meaning of the mango trees in folklore and mythology in a deliciously tender way.

Already so much information is gathered about these majestic mango trees across the internet. That if we composed them then they tend to fill many volumes.

Even a single story about the mango tree manages to fill many papers. Will you agree with me if I say that a single fact about the mango tree requires comprehensive research and analysis? Yes? No?

I am not an obsessive person about trees in any way but I do think that there is always a need to know about what made them so attractive and beneficial in history along with their various meanings in ancient scripts. Therefore, I feel that the sole purpose of this mini-series is to outline the different aspects of mango trees.

In part 1, I have briefly appraised the origin and etymology of mango trees by narrating the marvelous journey of Aam-kay to mango.

Here in part 2, my sole motive is to highlight this topic in detail.

  • The history of mango trees in Buddhism


The Buddha love for mango trees

Can you see the flowers of mango trees produced in terminal panicles or clusters form? The mango tree full with scented flowers is a beautiful sight to behold in the late spring season.

I ended the last section by referring to an account that in ancient India there was a tradition of the ruling class to bestow titles to prominent people by using the names of mango varieties.

In some rare cases, it was noticed that there was also a custom of allotting an entire mango grove to respected people as a token for their love and devotion.

32. In the travelogue of renowned Buddhist pilgrims Fa-Hien and Sung-Yun, it is remembered that the Buddha was presented with a mango orchard as a sign of love and affection by Amradarika in 500 BC. This mango orchard was called Amravana and it is used as a place for meditation by Buddha.

Buddha himself is said to have found peace and serenity under a mango tree

33. The more fascinating thing is to know about the Amradarika herself. If you are aware of Urdu/Hindi languages then this word would look very familiar to you. Isn’t that? If you split the term Amradarika in two then it will reveal to you that Amra means mango and darika is a Sanskrit word that is used for the tree.

34. The more I came to know about her, the more I got marvel. The Amradarika as I came to know is a kind of a repentant prostitute. The term Buddhic Magdalen was used for her. In simplest words, she was the daughter of the mango tree. This is what I learned from some ancient scripts that she was very devoted to the Buddha and gave that garden as a charity to him.

35. As excerpted from this source,

“The lady Amra appears more natural. She is called the “Mango girl” in the Southern records…she was a courtesan, and otherwise called Ambapali.” Amba or ambha is a Punjabi word for mangoes.

Source: jetlands.com

Do you want to find out which legendry person used to meditate under the shade of a mango tree?

36. Though, the bodhi tree is where the Buddha finds enlightenment. But the legends also claim that Buddha himself is said to have meditated under a mango tree within a silent grove.

37. The Buddha performed miracles under the mango tree is not unknown to historians. The Great Miracle of Shravasti is said to have been performed in front of the mango tree when Gautam Buddha recreated various forms of himself.

38. Here is a proof of how an impression of a mango tree is found in the friezes on the Stupa of Bharut which dates back about 100 BC.

His multiple images in front of a mango tree is indeed a popular theme of Buddhist art.

Great Miracle at Savrasti (also called Miracle of the Mango Tree) Sanchi Stupa 1 Northern Gateway

Mango trees as a symbol of peace, knowledge and fertility.

39. His multiple images in front of a mango tree are also a popular theme of Buddhist art. Besides the famous miracle, it is also believed that Gautam Buddha preferred the lush mango groves to rest.

40. I guess this is the reason why the large Buddhist community around the world appoints the mango trees as a symbol of peace and fertility.

They also took mango trees as a symbol of knowledge because of the belief that Gautam Buddha used to perform miracles under the shade of mango trees.

41. The dedicated Buddhists through centuries used to plant mango trees to show gratitude and respect to the Buddha and his teachings. I know there was a practice of planting mango trees along with other plants in the courtyards of traditional South Asian settings some decades ago. That’s how they keep the tradition of planting native trees alive and keep going the momentum of thriving trees for centuries.

42. Here, I would like to mention that Buddhist monks are believed to have taken mango fruits with them when traveling from place to place especially for working or teaching in various places of the world for relatively short periods.

And therefore, introduced the fruit to Southern East Asia countries like Malaysia and China around the 4th and 5th century BC.

They have achieved this by planting seeds of mangoes beside the temples and nearby gardens. Usually, it took approximately 5 years for a mango tree to bear fruits from a seedling in the summer season.

The tale of present-day Srilanka conversion to Buddhism

43. Now, this was an interesting time in history when the entire nation was judge by the temperament of the ruler of that era.

According to the Great Chronicle of Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka converted to Buddhism after an intense and symbolic conversation over mango trees between the Island’s King Tissa and Mahinda. The King was so touched and convinced of the Mahinda knowledge that he converted to Buddhism, and consequently, the rest of the island’s population.

What name does this tree bear, oh king?

44. As excerpted from this authentic source,

The Mahavamsa recorded:

“What name does this tree bear, O king?”

“This tree is called a Mango.”

“Is there yet another Mango besides this?”

“There are many mango trees.”

“And are there yet other trees besides this mango and the other mangos?”

“There are many trees, sir; but those are trees that are not mangoes.”

“And are there, besides the other mangoes and those trees which are not mangoes, yet other trees?”

“There are yet more of those than of my kin.”

“Is there yet any one besides the kinsfolk and the others?”

“There is yet myself, sir.”

“Good. Thou hast a shrewd wit, O ruler of men.”

Somehow this answer satisfied the Mahinda who initially came here to preach to them about his religion. He was impressed by the king’s quick wit and intelligence, and consequently he started preaching to the entire court.

**(I have provided the Links where they are expected & required).


I am ending this section here. I hope you like this effort and thanks for finding time to read it. Please like, share, and follow my blog so that I keep on writing about trees & more.


Tree stories: The Olive Trees and the Driftwood

It is an interesting anecdote from ancient times when storytelling was considered an important element of everyday life. It was considered a source of inspiration for the general public gatherings of that bygone era.

The story I am intended to share today is from the life of Mullah Nasruddin Hodja who was a contemporary scholar and wise man of his time.

Olive trees on the hill

The Olive Trees and the driftwood

This is a short story of a farmer who asked a very decent question from Nasruddin whether or not his olive trees would bear fruits in the coming season.

Oh Hodja! Would my olives 🫒 bear this year?

“They will bear,” said the wise old Mullah.

“How do you know?”

“I just know, that is all.”

Upon saying that, he went away


Sometimes later, it’s so happened that the same farmer saw Nasrudin scurrying his donkey along a seashore, looking for driftwood.

(Driftwood is a kind of wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach, lake, or river by the action of winds, tides or waves)

“There is no wood here, Mullah, I have looked,” he shouted.

Some hours later, the same man saw Nasrudin treading his way home, tired out, still without fuel.

On seeing this, the farmer addressed him mockingly.

“You are a man of knowledge, who can tell whether an olive tree will bear or not. Why can’t you tell whether there is wood on a seashore or not?”

Upon this, Nasruddin wisely replied.

“I know what must be,” confessed Nasrudin, “but I do not know what may be.”

Final thoughts:

The term driftwood is used for a person who has difficulty making decisions quickly and firmly. The one who hesitates to take decisions on time. On the other hand, olive tree stands firm and grounded. It symbolize the eternal link between man and the earth.

Driftwood on a beach on a misty day

The driftwood also symbolizes the eternal connection of man with the ocean.

This is the contrast difference between an alive tree versus a dead traveling tree that is just going on with the flow. Finding driftwood depends on many factors as they mostly rely on winds and storms to be swept away on the beaches and shores.

Olive trees mean longevity because they are renowned for living for thousands of years.

On the other hand, driftwood reminds us that they are just woody remnants of dead trees that wind up progressing through rivers, lakes, or oceans.

The phrase I know what must signify a classic example of whatever is meant or predestined to happen will happen as indicated by bearing olives.

But I do not what may indicate uncertainty when you are not sure about something that may happen in the future as in the case of not discovering driftwoods along a seashore on that hot summer day.


Nasreddin Hodja is considered a philosopher, Sufi, and wise old man. He is remembered throughout the Middle East for his witty stories and anecdotes. Usually, there is the joke, followed by a moral message which brings the consciousness on the road to realization.


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Is it a painting or a real picture?

Hello dear friends and respected readers, let us figure it out before indulging ourselves further in today’s topic.

Is it a painting or a real picture?
Image courtesy: Akram Varraich

At first glance, I thought it’s a random picture of a rural setting that the photographer has snapped while roaming around a nearby village.

My understanding of this image differs when I look closely at the scenery to inspect the tree for identifying purposes.

Then it suddenly occurs to me that I am looking at a painting of a scene that proposes a little mystery, some vagueness, and a bit of romance.

Can you name this tree? 

It’s hard to identify the tree by its overall appearance when the entire picture looks like a jigsaw puzzle to me. I have to zoom in on the image and then it reveals to me that this is an Acacia arabica tree locally known as Kikar.

How to know it's an Acacia Arabica tree? 

The bark of the tree gives it away. IF it is a painting then the painter knows how to make an ordinary-looking scene a masterpiece.

Contrary to this, if it is a real picture then the photographer knows how to develop magical scenes that are fictional, and all the more incredible for them.

I identify the tree by its black coloured trunk which is the beauty of every local gum tree. Moreover, the comment session confirms my query.

The Acacia nilotica is a moderate-sized tree which has a flattish or umbrella shaped crown as can be seen here. It is easily identified by its bright yellow, sweet-scented flowers.

On hot summer days, the tree is in full bloom and it’s leafy foliage provides good shade to humans and animals alike.

A little about the image

At the end of this post, I would like to give credit to the artist. This picture was uploaded to Facebook on 6 May 2010 by Akram Varraich who is a renowned painter and photographer of Punjab, Pakistan.

The philosophy that depicts in Varraich sir work is crystal clear that if you could not say it in words then there is a need to paint it. I have minimum interaction with this artist regarding his work. But as you can observe through his artistic skills that he is a proficient painter with a vision in his mind.

The one who deliberately knows how to give a dramatic effect to a scene with fewer tools available.


Image source: Album Images of Wazirabad

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My thoughts on the oak tree in the courtyard

I found an oak tree while looking through the window of self-awareness. I was planning to live in the present moment when through the window of my mind, I saw this picture of a gigantic oak tree planted deep inside my mind decades ago.

This giant tree took me back to that state of mind when I was looking for meaning in my life. I was rejected, denied and contradicted for so many lesser reasons. They say I am not good with words but the reality is that words are just words they can’t fully express your deepest emotions. Attached emotions to words and we are back to fantasy. This is how we lose reality.

The oak tree in the courtyard symbolised many things for it’s strength and longevity. This is a sacred tree which pays attention to whatever is happening in the present moment and experiencing it without judgement and conclusion.

An oak tree is a symbol of biological and spiritual nourishment, spiritual growth and transformation.

When a monk asked Zhaozhou, an extraordinary Zen master, about the living essence of zen. His answer was simply remarkable and full of wisdom. He replied by pointing towards an oak tree there in the garden.

“A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Zen?.”

Zhaozhou said, “The oak tree in the courtyard.”

Quote source: Case 37 from the Mumonkan (Wumenguan) Collection of Zen Koans
The Oak Tree in the Courtyard.

Here, I would like to mention that the Oak tree is believed to be connected to the movements of the planet Mars. It is determined that when the plant Mars comes close to the Earth, it’s supposed to stimulate the roots of the oak. It’s rightly said to be the symbol of fertility and spiritual growth.

Coming close to Mars strengthen the secret connection of the oak tree with the forest where it is growing. Similarly, when Mars went far away, it is the Sun that promotes upward growth causing the Oak to be one of the largest, most influential trees of the world.

Photo credits: Pexels

There is another anecdote from the tales of the oak tree in the courtyard which is worth mentioning here.

A monk asked Chao-chou, “Has the oak tree Buddha nature?”

Chao-chou said, “Yes, it has.”

The monk said, “When does the oak tree attain Buddhahood?”

Chao-chou said, “Wait until the great universe collapses.”

The monk said, “When does the universe collapse?”

Chao-chou said, “Wait until the oak tree attains Buddhahood.

Quote source: The Gateless Barrier, The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan),
Translated by Robert Aitken, Case 37

In both of these anecdotes what does an oak tree stands for? Let’s figure it out.

The oak tree in the Zhaozhou’s yard stands tall and nourishes the ground underneath. It is clearly understood that one should sit like an oak tree with it’s branches truly lost in the sky and it’s roots deeply spread into the ground.

Standing under a mighty shade of an oak tree in the courtyard doesn’t represent our deflecting feelings and beliefs. It teaches us how to overcome hardship in our lives. The awareness about a problem is not a problem itself. But obsession over what we cannot change is the real problem.

Listen closely and you will find out that the monk asked a very profound question from his master. He was seeking an answer of what is the meaning of zen and the master carefully teaches him about mindfulness, living in the present moment. The oak tree here represents the entire universe. When the whole universe is the oak tree, there is no beginning or no end.


Also read: The angel oak tree & The oak tree and the myth


Sources: The oak tree in the garden and Koan website.


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Quote of the day

“If not ignored, nature will cultivate in the gardener a sense of well-being and peace. The gardener may find deeper meaning in life by paying attention to the parables of the garden. Nature teaches quiet lessons to the gardener who chooses to live within the paradigm of the garden.”

– Norman H. Hansen, The Worth of Gardening

Nature teaches quiet lessons to the gardener who prefers to see the garden as a set of ideas. Do you believe in spiritual awakening where we can feel, sense or know about our virtuous energy that flows freely through us?

These are the pictures that I recently click while waiting patiently outside an embassy office.

No matter how many expensive cameras and gadgets I purchase for the pleasure of it but when it comes to photography, I am dead. I become numb and don’t know how to beautifully seize a day in pictures. I seldom share my photography because of the criticism I receive afterwards.

Though I do try to take photos because of the large amount of money I have wasted on them. Don’t take me wrong, I do like photography and have no regrets whatsoever. But the idea of taking a perfect picture exhausts me out. I am the kind of person who carelessly takes photos while travelling far away places.

Thank you for reading.

This 150 years old banyan tree in Sialkot on the verge of being cut down!

I recently came to know about a magnificent banyan tree standing alone in a middle of a densely populated area that is recently on the brink of getting extinct in her own country of origin.

Today, my efforts are about saving a tree from the dire consequences of the pure stubbornness of her people. The problem is when the tree is cut off there will be none left. It will never be replaced. People need to understand why there is always a need to save such century-old trees.

Today, I am going to document the story of a banyan tree in Sialkot which is on the verge of being cut down by the local community.

Due to a very ridiculous reason that it yielded too much foliage which is unbearable for the neighbours and the passers-by alike.

They gave an improper justification to prove their point that it is very tiresome for the residents of that area to clear the mess of the fallen leaves especially for those neighbours who park their cars under the shade of this thriving tree.

It is a bitter reality that every year thousands of trees are being chopped off for the sake of development work. It is a very gruesome and barbaric act to destroy such national heritage.

The life span of banyan tree

The minimum life span of such a banyan tree is approximately 300-500 years. But if you allow the aerial roots and branches of banyan trees to expand in favourable conditions then the chances of survival of such trees are maximum. It is not an assumption but a fact that the banyan tree can easily survive for thousands of years.


This screenshot is obtained from a Facebook group by the name of Desi Gardening

Citizen’s role in saving this tree

It should be kept in mind that this modest-looking tree is probably 150 year’s old according to a concerned citizen by the name of Yasir Mirza who first highlight this issue by talking about it on various social media platforms.

According to him, this tree was planted by his paternal grand-uncle Munshi Nizam din in the era of British colonial rule in India.

Yeh tau hamare dada k bhai ne Munshi Nizam din ne angrez daur may lagaya tha”

Yasir Mirza

“Furthermore, its home to hundreds of birds”

Yasir Mirza

In most traditional villages of Pakistan, a banyan tree serves as an ideal meeting place for the entire village community but the problem with this specific tree is that it lies in the middle of an urban area with cemented paths and alleys.


The definition of an heritage tree

Before ending this post, here I would like to briefly define heritage trees and why there is a need to preserve such trees. An heritage tree is any kind of tree that is more than 50 years old and is of both cultural and ecological significance. It should be of some historical importance as well and provide food, medicine and shelter to the entire ecosystem.

Now I left this question for you to think about which measurements we should take to save this national heritage?

Thank you for reading. Please like, share and comment to let me know what do you thing about this post.

Sources:

Desi Gardening Facebook Group post by Yasir Mirza

Giant banyan tree in our street by Yasir Mirza


15 incredible photos of the trees around the world!

Today, I am not going to talk anything about bridges or mountains or the sky full of showery clouds. There is always hope at the beginning of cultivating new things. I am talking about trees in their most glorifying form. Let’s talk about the most spectacular living component of our natural world.

Trees, trees, and trees everywhere of different shapes and sizes to maintain a balance in the ecosystem.

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.  A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy
reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”
–   Basil

I recently came to know about a very heartbreaking story shared by a concerned citizen from my home country that people in his neighbourhood are intended to kill a 150 years old banyan tree because it produced too much foliage and hence creating a mess of fallen leaves everywhere. It’s shocking to hear such ridiculous stories where people are mercilessly killing trees for some extra amount of cash.

(Here, a link to this Facebook post)

Trees help to strengthen a balance in the ecosystem. It is rightly said that trees are sanctuaries and have the power to enrich our souls throughout the year. They reassure and calm us down by the mere rustling of their leaves.

“Trees are sanctuaries.  Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.  They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” –  Hermann Hesse,  Wandering  

Unfortunately, the rate at which these trees are being cut down is very frightening in my country of origin. I don’t like tragic endings but chopping down an old tree that is also more than 150 years old is a crime in itself.

However, some of the giant old trees are difficult to forget or hard to go unnoticed. Here, I am compiling a list of 15 different types of trees around the world for you to cherish and admire.

“Follow the wisdom provided by nature. Everything in moderation – sunlight, water, nutrients. Too much of a good thing will topple your structure.  You can’t harvest what you don’t sow. So plant your desires, gently nurture them, and they will be rewarded with abundance.”

–  Vivian Elisabeth Glyck, 1997

These are the 15 most seen photos of the trees online that have been continually been shared on various social media platforms. Some people have personally visited these places to take us back to the wilderness.

The first on my list is a tree from Pakistan which has beautifully embedded herself on the wall of a neglected building.

1. That one tree struggles to revive the old heritage


2. Yes, we are talking about the roots here!


3. When mother nature thrives back


4. The Bristlecone pine tree on the rim of the Crater lake, National park, Oregon, USA


5. One of the oldest living beings in Portugal


6. This happens when the tree decides to start a new life


7. The Dragon blood tree as photographed by Daniel Kordan


8. Desert Rose is pink in colour!


9. The world oldest Olive tree, estimated to be over 3000 years old. It is still producing olives on the isle of Crete.


10. The world-famous tree house (Believe it or not). Let’s go there!


11. Arashiyama Bamboo forest is breathtaking!


12. The woods are full of fairies!
The trees are all alive!


13: Elephant paw tree in bloom


14. The daisugi technique – an ancient Japanese pruning method from the 14th century that allows lumber production without cutting down trees


15: 1400-year-old Ginkgo tree


Source: I took these images from various Facebook groups which are mostly focused on trees.


Thank you for reading. Please like, share and comment if you like this post of 15 incredible photos of the trees around the world.


What is the word for the sound of wind in trees?

Today, I am going to tell you an interesting story that I have heard recently. This is a story of a man named Nasruddin who liked to spend some time under a huge oak tree. An oak tree that happened to be near a field of melons.

He used to question himself while resting under the shade of that huge oak tree and mumbled in silence that everyone believes that…

“The Creator has a grand plan, but if I look closely at this majestic Oak tree which has very small acorns as compared to these angular melon plants with their huge bulky fruits. I think the Creator has made a mistake on this one.”

He was just thinking about this that all of a sudden an acorn fell precisely on his nose and he cried in pain by saying that

“Oh my God! Now I understand the wisdom of the Creator!”

The above story has nothing to do with this post but we should remember, that there is always a spiritual message hidden in every moral story. In this story, we learned in a very witty style from a man called Nasruddin that everything on this planet is made on purpose and there is a reason for our existence.


The tree which moves some to tears of joy


Now coming to the real topic, I would like to say that we find comfort only in the beauty of others, in the poetry of others and so we keep on living torn up between the brief explosions of solitude and self-realization which taste like opium, a kind of drug that when excessively taken can give you a blurred vision or sometimes even hallucination.

We are people rinsed by dreams and the tree which moves some to tears of pure joy is in the opinion of others is merely a green thing that stands in their mighty way.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.  Some see Nature as all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all.  But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.”
–  William Blake, 1799, The Letters    

We tend to fall in love with the little things about nature, like the sound of wind in the trees and the way their branches moves over us in a swinging fashion and hence protecting us from the direct rays of sunlight.


What is the word for the sound of wind in trees?


The sound of wind blowing through the trees is mesmerising and have the power to bring our childhood memories back. Through ages, people have invented many words to describe their favourite sounds.

The sound of the wind is so appealing that when it pass or encounter any obstacle, it is known as the Eolian sound as described in Britannica.

Similarly, there is also a word for the sound of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves. It comes from the Greek word psithuros means whispering.

Psithurism is the word described by many tree enthusiasts when the wind blows through the trees and produced a rustling sound.


This image is designed by using the Canva app.


Psithurism is a very difficult word to pronounce if you are not familiar with silent words. There is an explanation for pronouncing weird words in the English language. It should be kept in mind that “p” at the start of psithurism is silent as can be mostly seen with the words that usually start with “ps”. Hence, the psithurism word is pronounced as sith-err-iz-um.


All conversation begins under the shade of trees.


I like trees in their most vulnerable form when they are busy gossiping happily with their neighbour trees and swaying their branches in full rhythm.

To conclude, I would say that that the powerful way of healing and restoring energy is by listening to the sound of nature. Spending time with trees reduces blood pressure and relieves stress and anxiety as it is rightly said all good conversations begin under the shade of trees.


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Also read: Tree hugging is real and it works

A world full of new things

There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realize, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are.

Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk

I am most alive among the tall trees!

“A tree is our most intimate contact with nature.” ― George Nakashima

5 Things You Should Know About The Colour Green

Old Banyan tree located in Karachi Zoological and Botanical Garden

I am a huge admirer of native trees. This is a story of an Indian fig tree that has been on this planet for as long as one can imagine. For some indigenous people, this tree is 100 years old and according to some old folk, this banian tree is more than 200 years ago.

(The banyan in old days was usually spelt as banian or banius because of its reference to the trader’s community who used to sit and sold their precious products under the mighty shade of these trees.)

Image Courtesy: Suleman Sajjad

From a historical perspective, it has been rumoured that Mahatama Gandhi used to sit beneath the green shade of this tree. The Zoo was known as a Mahatama Gandhi Garden in those unforgettable times.

This is a little known fact that the Karachi zoo came into existence in the year 1878. Because of his immense fondness for that botanical garden, it was initially called a Mahatama Gandhi Garden. It was turned into the zoo after the partition in 1947 and hence the name was mercilessly changed for the generations to come.

Image Courtesy: Suleman Sajjad

The banyan tree is a popular Pakistani village tree and in the native language, it is commonly known as the Barghad ka darakht. According to the local community, a banyan is a tree that makes wishes comes true.

It is a fig tree that has happily begun its life as an epiphyte. If you are not familiar with the term epiphyte then I would like to describe it as a kind of plant that usually grows on another plant but not as a parasite.

It grows on a host plant but unlike a parasitic plant, it takes no nutrients from the host tree but mostly relies on nutrients from other resources such as from the air, rainwater etc.

I am an ardent lover of three kinds of trees and their names are as per excellence. These are Naeem, peepal and banyan tree because my childhood was mostly spent under the shade of these beautiful trees. Native trees are usually aggressive and invasive in their behaviour and they have that innate ability to grow almost everywhere in a very short period.

Image Courtesy: Suleman Sajjad

The leaves of the tree as can be seen in these pictures are large, green, and elliptical. Some leaves are glossy, bright in appearance where there is sufficient sunlight and some leaves are dusty and thick, leathery in texture.

The trunks are painted white to signify that it is government property and hence, it is protected by law. In my opinion, old trees should not be painted white or in any colour possible so that people should respect and protect all old trees equally in their vicinity.

The fallen leaves are yellow and noticeably, there is no trace of grass under the shade of this tree. It is quite proverbial that nothing ever grows under the Banyan tree. The banyan tree does not let any grass or weed grow under it and believe me the reason for this is quite alluring and satisfying. As you can see that banyan leaves are quite thick and leathery and the entire tree looks like a huge mushroom type. Therefore the foliage of thick leaves doesn’t allow anything to flourish or sprout on its own. Only the plants that lacks chlorophyll can survive under a huge banyan tree.

Sources:

She teaches me the name of flowers

Mango – A wish-granting tree (Part 1)

Getting behind the trees physical and healing properties and understanding of practical qualities is the key to comprehend their unique character.

An esoteric study of trees in folklore and mythology is essential to understand them more extensively and clearly in order to obtain exclusive benefits from them.

By esoteric study, I propose inherently gravitating towards the intellectual side of the trees and appreciating their uniqueness and individuality to such a great extent that it becomes easier to discover more about various cultural aspects of these trees in our folklore and mythology.

To observe trees in their grandest form is always a pleasure and contentment in itself. I should have compiled these anecdotes a decade ago but due to professional loyalties and commitments, I have to abandon that dearest practice of learning about trees a long time ago as an enthusiast.

Today the topic is about idealizing the benefits of a heavenly tree that is very close to the heart of people where it has been growing for centuries. There is no doubt about that the history of the mango tree is as delicious as the taste of mangoes.

Mango – A wish-granting tree

Let’s know about the mythical meaning of the mango trees in folklore and mythology by first emphasizing upon their geographical distribution and significance.

The accumulated global knowledge and information on the majestic mango trees have a tendency to fill many volumes. Even a single story about the mango tree has a propensity to fill many papers. Even a single fact about the mango tree requires comprehensive research and analysis.

So, the sole purpose of this article is to summarize different characteristics of the mango trees that made them so attractive and beneficial along with their various historical meanings and findings in ancient scripts and writings.

Since the Ancient time, mango tree has a great cultural, socio-economic and religious significance in Indo-Pak Subcontinent.

It is seen as a symbol of love and people believe that the mango tree can fulfil our wishes.

The origin of Mango trees

A brief history of mango trees

1. The mango tree is native to South Asian countries and has become one of the most essential fruit crops in the world with the passage of time.

2. The domestication and cultivation of mango trees in Pakistan and India are as old as 4,000 to 6000 years.

This time period in history is known as the Holocene epoch or the age of man. What does that mean?

It was that time when old civilisations were developing such as Indus Valley Civilisation in its Pre Harrapan phase. Also known as an early food-producing era.

3. Chronological records and palaeobotanical science provided interesting information on tree fossils and gave sufficient proof about its origin in the Indo-Burma-Malay region.

Indo is the term used as relating to India. It is mostly used when referring to ancient India which now combines many neighbouring countries especially Pakistan and Bangladesh which was once considered as the part of India.

Old map of India featuring Indo Burma Malay Region

4. Based on the detailed history of the origin of mango trees, it is determined that the native home of common mango (Mangifera indica) was known as Eastern India, Indo-China, Assam and Burma.

5. Scientific fossil evidence indicates that the mango tree made its first appearance even earlier 25 to 30 million years

6. It was Mukherjee who suggested that Mangifera indica first appeared during the Quaternary period.

The Quaternary Period is divided into two epochs: the Pleistocene(2.588 million years ago to 11.7 thousand years ago) and the Holocene (11.7 thousand years ago to today).

7. History is mostly guessing and the rest of everything is pure discrimination. Hence, it’s proven from the above data that this celebrated fruit tree has been known to the inhabitants of Indo Pak subcontinent since very early times.

8. The mango tree is discreetly associated with the history of agriculture in Pakistan and one of the earliest known proof of mango trees dated back to Indus Valley Civilization which flourished from around 3000-1500 BCE. It was the time when sugar was not yet known and inhabitants of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa used natural sweetening methods that mainly came from honey, dates and fruits such as Jamun and mango.

Mango, date palm, banana, guava, and orange are typical fruit-bearing trees cultivated in the Indus valley.

The botanical name of the mango tree

9. Its botanical name is Mangifera indica L. and is the most important species of the genus Mangifera, which produces the most delicious fruit called the mango.

The lustrous journey of mangoes from Aam- kay to manga

11. The mango tree is lucky to have its origin in South Asian countries because of its vast and splendid history but do you know in its native countries, this fruit tree is not known as mango but as aamra or aam. There is no doubt about that the original name of the mango tree is quite different from the one that is spoken now.

12.The earliest known name given to the mango tree was Amra as cited in Dharmashastra and mango fruit is known in those ancient times as Amra-Phalam.

13. This tree is mentioned in old Sanskrit as bearing good fruits. These domestic trees were planted in and near villages by the rulers of those ancient empires.

14.The mango tree was also present at the time of Indus valley civilization and used as an alternative of sugar.

15. Starting from the Urdu speaking regions, it is widely acknowledged as Aam ka darakht (the mango tree).

16. In Northern and Southern regions of Punjab (Pakistan) where Urdu and Punjabi are the well-spoken languages, the tree is called aam ka darakht or mango fruit is equivalent to aam ka phal.

17. The tree then migrated to the other side of the border on the southern plains of India where predominantly Hindi, Punjabi and Tamil languages further altered the names of mango in the form of aam, ambha, Amra, respectively.

18. In Hindi language, it is also known as aam and fruit is aam-phal.

19. In the Tamil language, the kaay word is used instead of phal. So, with the diversity in spoken languages, aam phal is referred to as aam kaay.

20. Aam-kaay gradually transformed into man-kaay or maam-kaay owing to the differences in pronunciation and because of use of different accents.

21. Man-kaay is a Dravidian word which is also understood as one of the oldest known languages of South Asia. Man means mango tree and kaay word is used for fruit.

22. Now comes the Malayalam language which plays a substantial role in reshaping the name of aam to its modern form.

The Malayali people further changed this name mamkay or mangai to Maanga.

23.The mangoes were undoubtedly introduced to the modern world by the Portuguese on their arrival to Kerala, India.

24. The mango fruit was not known to Europeans until the arrival of the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama in 1498 in Calicut, a port town in the Malabar coast of Kerala, India.

25. It was the untiring efforts of Portuguese who then adopted the Malayalam word maanga in Portuguese and introduced it to the rest of the world. How? Now here comes an interesting anecdote that I have heard about a long time ago.

26. The story goes like that one of the Portuguese who landed in Calicut happened to write to his British friend and boasted that they have found a new fruit in India which is known as manga. It was those golden days when the letter was written by hand and the typewriter was not invented at that time. The British friend out of curiosity read the name as mango, not by mistake at all. Most of the Portuguese words ended in “o” such as avocado, potato, tomato, tobacco and so on. Therefore, this is how the word mango entered the English dictionary.

27. The French variation of this name is mangue.

28. The European countries were introduced to this fruit during their spice trade with Indo Pak subcontinent in the 15th and 16th centuries.

29. It was the crucial stage in the history of mangoes in regard to the popularity of these trees. How?

It was in the Mughal era that the Portuguese are said to introduce vegetative propagation methods in India for the first time to clone superior mono-embryonic trees in the 15th Century.

Who is the first person to bring the mango to the attention of the ancient world?

30. Hsüan-Tsang appears to be the first person to bring the mango to the notice of people outside India.

Megasthenes and Hsiun-Tsang, the earliest writer-travellers to ancient India, wrote about how the ancient Indian kings, notably the Mauryas, planted mango trees along roadsides and highways as a symbol of prosperity.

They also wrote about the incredible taste of the fruit, bringing the mango to the notice of people outside India. 

The custom of bestowing titles

31. In ancient India, there was a custom of the ruling class to bestow titles on prominent people by using names of mango varieties.



Thank you for reading.


Lovers of pine

Lovers of pine is a Japanese folktale about two lovers that become two young pine trees by sitting under a shade of an old pine tree.



It happened in ancient times when the capital of Japan was still the city of Nara. (Nara, located around 30 km south of modern Kyoto, was the capital of ancient Japan between 710 and 784 CE.)

There lived a young man named Iratsuko and a girl named Iratsume. They were both very beautiful people which caused many people to gossip about them.

“It would be good if the Iratsuko and Iratsume fell in love,” people would say.

But the two of them didn’t notice each other at all. Iratsuko heard what people were saying but he only waved his hand while Iratsume only smiled as she continued on her way.

One evening while the people of the village were staging a big celebration they gathered in the forest glade and began to sing, dance and compose poems.

Then the young man approached Iratsume.

“Turn to look at me,” he asked her. “You are beautiful, like a young pine. Give me some sign that you love me.”

“Do not befit me to listen to such speeches,” she said blushing. “I confess however that I have loved you for a long time. People noticed us, which lead to conversations which in turn made me curious.”

Then everyone began to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“When are you going to be married?” the people called.

“Leave us in peace. Do not look at us, do not touch us” Iratsuko said with anger as he grabbed the girl by the hand and ran into the forest.

“It’s not like we hurt them,” the people said shaking their head. “We were just happy at their good fortune in finding each other at last.”

The two lovers ran into the woods and sat down under an old pine tree.

“Those people never give you a moment’s peace,” Iratsuko snarled.

“It’s true, people are forever sticking their noses into others business,” Iratsume agreed.

It was dark and quite, with only the moon in the sky for light and the gentle sound of the leaves falling from the trees. The two of them sat up all night by the old pine and didn’t notice that morning had come. When the sun rose over the mountain they looked around, they could hear roosters in the distance and a dog barking.

“Let’s go back to the village,” Iratsuko said, but as he tried to rise he found that he was rooted to the ground.

“I’ll help you!” Iratsume exclaimed, but her feet were rooted to the ground as well.

“What’s happened to us!?” the two lovers exclaimed in surprise.

Meanwhile the rest of the villagers came into the forest to search for Irasuko and Iratsume. And lo and behold at the edge of the woods they found two young pine trees. The people gasped when they saw these pines.

“Look, look! It’s Iratsuko and Iratsume. They have turned into pine trees,” the people cried.

Iratsume and Iratsuko heard this and grew frightened for they realized that they must surely have become pine trees.  So they were now two pine trees at the edge of the forest. Sometimes farmers come into the woods and sit under them while asking, “How are you my pretty Iratsume? And is Iratsuko feeling well?”

That’s when the pine creaks and the pines wave and the tree seems to say. “Again you break our peace! We get no salvation from you. Do not look at us, do not touch us.”

So the farmers sigh and eventually go away. So the pine Iratsume is called “do not look at me,” and the pine Iratsuko is called, “do not touch me.”



Source:

Japanese Fairy Tale

THE BOASTFUL BAMBOO

A folklore from Fuji

Beneath the gleaming snows of Fuji lay a great forest.

There many giant trees grew, the fir, the pine, the graceful bamboo, and the camellia trees.

The balmy azaleas and the crinkled iris bloomed in the shade.

The blue heavens were fleecy with snowy clouds, and gentle zephyrs caressed the blossoms and made them bow like worshipers before a shrine.

Side by side there grew two bamboo trees.

One of these was tall, strong, and stately; and he reared his haughty head to heaven and bowed not to the North Wind as he passed.

The other was a slender bamboo, so slight and delicate that it swayed with every breeze, and moaned with fright when a storm swept down the wrath of the mountain.

The children loved the graceful bamboo, and named her Silver Mist; but the big bamboo looked down upon her with scorn.

“You bend and bow to every breeze. Have you no pride? It is not fitting that a bamboo should show fear. I stand straight and strong and bow to no one,” he said.

“You are going to be of some great use in the world, I am sure,” said the humble bamboo. I am only fit to trim the houses for the New Year’s feast. But you will become a beam in some great house or, maybe, even in a palace.”

“Do not think I shall be only that,” cried the boastful bamboo with a scornful laugh. “I am indeed intended for something great. I think I shall be chosen for the mast of a mighty ship. Then will the wings of the ship swell with the breeze, and it will fly over the ocean and I shall see strange lands and new peoples.

All men will behold me and will say, ‘See the stately bamboo which graces yonder junk!’ As for you, poor timorous one, you are not even brave enough to deck the New Year’s feast. You will be used to make mats for people to tread under foot.

The slim little bamboo did not answer back. 

She only bent her head and cried bitterly. The flowers felt sorry for her and breathed their soft perfume about her to comfort her.


As the days went by the slim bamboo grew prettier, and the children loved her more and more. They played beneath her waving branches, they made flower chains and garlands and hung them from her boughs.

“See,” they cried in childish glee. “This is the Lady Silver Mist. Let us tie a flower around her slender waist;” and they bound a girdle of flowers about her.


One day there came woodmen to the forest, and they chopped down many of the trees, trampling the grass and the flowers under foot.

When they saw the big bamboo they said,

“Here is a tall, straight tree. It will do for a mast. We will cut it first.”

“Good-by,” said the boastful bamboo to the slender one.

“I am going to see the world and do great things. Good-by, child, I hope you will not be used to make rain coats.

When I am on the bright and beautiful sea I shall remember and pity you!”

“Good-by,” sighed his little comrade. “Good fortune go with you.”

The big bamboo was cut down, and the hillside saw him no more.

When, however, the woodmen came to the little tree, they smiled to see it so beautifully garlanded with flowers and they said,

“This little tree has friends.”

Then the children took courage and ran to the woodcutters and cried,

“Pray do not cut down our tree! In all the forest we love it best. It is the Lady Silver Mist and it has been our playmate for many moons.”

“You must dig it up and bear it away if you wish to save its life,” said the chief woodman. “We are sent to this forest to clear it, so that a grand palace may be built upon the hillside where all is so fair and beautiful.”

“Gladly will we root her up and take her to our home,” answered the eldest child; and very carefully they dug her up, not destroying even a single root, for the woodman helped them, so kind was he and of a good heart.


They placed the slim bamboo in a lovely garden beside the sea, and she grew fair and stately and was happy. All around was calm and beautiful.

The sea waves lapped the coral strand. By day, the sun shone on the tawny sands and turned them to gold; the sky was blue as a turquoise, and pearly clouds floated across it like shadowy angel’s wings.

By night the moon goddess rose in silvery beauty and bathed the garden in light; it kissed the leaves of the bamboo, until the dew sparkled upon them like diamonds in a setting of silver.

Fragrant flowers bloomed at the bamboo’s feet: irises from their meadow home, azaleas, rare lotus lilies, and a fringe of purple wistaria wafting its breath in friendship upon her.

Here she grew in strength and grace. All things were her friends, for she gave to all of her sweetness; and to the winds she bowed her head.

“Great North Wind,” she said gently, “how thou art strong!” And to the South Wind she said, “How sweet and kind thou art!” To the flowers she gave shade and to the children, who still loved her, companionship.

 


One night she shivered and bowed her head very, very low, for there came a storm from the sea, a storm so fierce and wild as to frighten her very soul.

The waves of the sea tossed the white foam heavenward; they rose up in giant walls of fury until ships sunk in the troughs between and were dashed to pieces.

The beach was strewn with wrecks, and when daylight came, Lady Silver Mist gazed upon the scene.

She recognized her old friend, the great bamboo, prostrate upon the ground, while all around him lay bits of the junk over which he had reared his haughty head.

“Alas! my poor friend!” she cried. “What a sad fate is yours! Would that I could aid you.”

“No one can help me,” he replied with a moan. “Would that I had been made into a common coolie pole with which to push a country junk!

Then might I have been useful for many years! No, my heart is broken, Silver Mist. Farewell.”

He gave a long shuddering sigh and spoke no more. Soon some men who came to clear up the wreckage, chopped the mast up for firewood; and that was the end of the boastful bamboo.


Source:

Japanese Fairy Tales