“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus
Such pretty season autumn is, too bad that we don’t experience it as much here in India except for the Himalayan regions up north. I remember traveling to those places (Ah! the good old days when we could travel to our heart’s content!) around the fall season and watching the leaves change their colours. And swaying and dancing in the breeze, bright and beautiful, and falling on the ground as if falling in love with the earth.
Every time I saw (the pictures of) autumn foliage, I fell a little bit more in love with the fall season. I especially loved the autumn colours on the maple leaf. Its cousin Chinar is found abundantly in Kashmir, India. From its rich culture, art, literature, heritage and more, the tree has a special relationship with Kashmir and its people. The one here (in the picture) is from Kashmir that I picked up from an early morning walk on the empty streets of Srinagar. I was back from the Kashmir Great Lakes trek and had a day to myself before flying back home. It was a Sunday. Around 7.30ish in the morning, I stepped out of the hotel. The shops were closed & the streets were sans people. I love these early morning strolls in new places, there’s a completely different vibe to it. It’s as if having a private, one-on-one conversation with the place sans her people if you really listen and see. Of course, people and their stories add so much to the place and that’s a different kind of beautiful, too.
Read about Kashmir Great Lakes Trek here
So, on that particular morning, as I strolled the empty streets of Srinagar, I saw all kinds of leaves strewn all over the lone roads and sidewalks. I stopped at one particular leaf, I don’t have a specific reason why I did – but I’d like to believe that that one was fallen there and was waiting to be picked up by me. Hard to say where it came flying from, as the Chinar trees around mostly had green (or at least not so vibrant yet) leaves on them or so I think. And I let my mind imagine a story about this leaf journeying through the valleys, or some faraway place/village. Maybe it was carried by the wind or traveled with an oblivious villager, hiding in his belongings on a rickety bus ride. Who knows?
And now with autumn around the corner, the shredding of Chinar trees or “buen” – as it is called in Kashmiri, might begin sometime soon or must have begun already. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be with the colourful hues of Chinar leaves adding to the beauty of Kashmir valley. I found this today pressed between the pages of one of my books. It’s been raining since the afternoon and the skies are dramatic. I let my mind drift along with this pretty little Chinar leaf through the empty street of Srinagar, into the valleys of Kashmir, dancing with the breeze and flying into the mountains and meadows.