Barking up the right tree

Barking up the right tree

Sweaters are for winters but endless variety is for barks of trees. See scales on them, jagged patches, multiple lumps, fearsome spines or slender hair. Here’s your invitation to stop and stare

Pics by the author

Have a heart, let’s not discuss colours. Pink, scarlet, purple and amber are best left to the ladies because they seem to be adept at spotting them right. Still, the colours now hit you in the eye thanks to the Metro train.

A soft carpet of silken strand flowers has unfurled amid the vast rain tree foliage and the slender frame of the jacaranda now sways with blooms too. Were you lucky enough to notice the thick cloud of blooms that wrapped up the tabebuia rosea (or is it avelende?) trees in the past few days? They are going, the flowers, and we’ll have to wait for a year to view them again. And it is not even mid-April, but I got this year’s first glimpse of gulmohur or mayflower clusters.

Once you have finished taking pictures illegally of friends and foes on your mobile phone cameras inside the Metro train, let your gaze drift outside and see the colour that beckons to you from tree tops.

Forget that. If you are walking on the road, look up and say hello to clusters of pongona blossoms that are cascading from lush shiny clusters of leaves.

Pardon me for I got carried away by the myriad colours, thanks to the trees and partly to the Metro train. My true theme has very little colour. It comes in warped, creased or flaked layers and it is abundant as the blossoms there. Luckily, it does not wilt and wane and then burst into hues like flowers do at different times of the year. It seems to be eternal, always there, if we cared to see. It is the tree bark, thick and scaly in some trees, creased or orderly in some and, on rare occasions, even colourful.

Picture perfect

For anyone with this magic object called the camera, of the digital class now, it should offer unlimited photographic delights. Rarely in colours but surely in textures, designs, shapes and patterns and even patches, they should leave a viewer breathless. The closer you go, the greater the patterns you can see on the tree trunks. The designs tend to be intricate and varied, as in the case of a spot where a branch must have stood long ago.

In the giant cottonwool tree, for example, you can see a hump in a regular pattern. The base has wavy and parallel lines and above them, a robust whorl.

Here, look at the silver oak tree. Its stem is firm and straight up to a point, but move closer and take a look at its coat. Its bark bears a startlingly systematic trellis design and everything looks so orderly. Do you wish to see disorder? Countless trees offer variety, some barks in multiple, peeling flakes or others in mottles, appearing to struggle to attain some shape. Some stems give up the fight and just bear patches of odd designs. For order and symmetry, go to the palm trees and see the closely placed whorls. It might need a Tibetan sweater-maker to duplicate such a design.

Sweaters are for winters, but endless variety is for barks of trees. See scales on them, jagged patches, multiple lumps, fearsome spines or slender hair. Where there are groves, there must be small tenants – insects, grubs, worms, spiders. Labyrinths of termite growth can be there too, though they are not good for the tree. Look far up and you might see that bark makes it easy for bees to build their hives.

Patience personified

Honey is a pointer to human greed. If you wish to spot tolerance, look at the tree bark. It does not groan, snarl or whimper as we inflict hardship on it. It does not bark or bite.
Drive nails deep, wind it with barbed wire, press mega-staples into it and even stick foul-smelling adhesive to herald your flagging service or product.

The scars and harm we inflict are ugly, but the bark of every tree is beautiful. It is there for everyone to see. Let’s move close and see the variety and intricacies of the bark.
If we do not care to see, no harm. Barks will always be there, blossom or no blossom.

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