“There is so much to learn by simply observing a tree”

says 12-year-old Daanya Purohit, as she responds to The Good Story Project’s call for ‘tree stories’. Purohit, who is a nature enthusiast, wants us all to take more notice of the trees around us, and to nurture them in public and private spaces so that we can enjoy greener and vibrant neighbourhoods as well as forested areas.

Trees are always around us whether it’s in our residential building, garden, or streets. We see them in our everyday life. They come in different colours, shapes and sizes, each tree being unique in its own special way. Even though trees are everywhere, we hardly take the time to notice their uniqueness and beauty.

There is so much to learn by simply observing a tree. One tree alone can house an entire ecosystem. When I go on my morning walks I observe the trees that grow in our neighbourhood. I spot birds and their nests, beehives, caterpillars, ants, termites, snakes and even other plants like climbers and creepers that grow on/or take the support of tall trees. It’s really amazing how a single tree has such a jaw dropping diversity of creatures and other fauna.

There are months when I see barren branches with no leaves at all, and I wonder if the tree is feeling dry and dead. Yet as the season turns, I see lush green leaves filling up the emptiness on the branches. There are periods when trees are filled with flowers, and then with fruits. But one thing remains common through all these changing seasons, and it is the fact that a tree supports many lives.

Unfortunately, today trees are in danger. We wipe out hundreds of trees in few hours. I have seen this happen at the Aarey Forests of Mumbai. In one night, an entire forest was cut down. I had felt very sad then, as along with the trees the wildlife that it supported was either displaced or destroyed.

People say we can always plant more trees. Planting trees is not same as growing a forest. A forest has many layers that support and maintain an entire ecosystem. It takes only a few years to grow a tree, but it takes many decades to make a forest.

However, the beautiful part is that nature has its own way of coming back. There is a local badam tree in my neighbourhood. Throughout the rainy season many wildflowers grew around it. As summer appeared the shrubs dried up, and people set fire in the patch to clear it. A large part of the badam tree was cut too. I thought that the tree was dead. But few days ago, with the drizzle of rain, I saw tiny, soft, green branches shooting out of the cut-down trunk. Life was flourishing again.

About the author: Dhanya is a nature enthusiast from Goa. She loves to observe butterflies and moths, their life cycle and behaviour. After completing the Butterflies for Beginners Certificate Course from INaturewatch Foundation, she started hand-raising caterpillars. She writes a blog and has also written several articles for newspapers and digital publications. She wants to be a naturalist when she grows up.  

Note: This article was published in collaboration with Bookosmia, India’s No 1 creative platform for kids. To know more about how under-18s can get their original published check — https://bookosmia.com/get-published/

While the article reflects the original views, tone and distinct style of the author, it has been edited for clarity and other purposes by Prerna Shah.

The image used in the article is only for representation purposes and is sourced from Pexels.com.

You can find out more about our tree series here.

“My parents were Jamaican, wooed to this country by a similar coastline and weather”

reveals a Frangipani tree as it recounts how it came to Bombay or Mumbai, and more specifically to a suburban building, and made itself at home with its young residents and their families.

I came to this suburban Bombay building wrapped as a goodwill offering, designed to usher in auspicious tidings. Perhaps it was my reputation as the “immortal tree” that made it a suitable choice for the young residents and their families.

I got an optimal, road-facing location within the building compound and yet my lithe stems struggled to adapt to the urbane surroundings. You see, although I came from the local garden centre, I craved for the beachy air of the Caribbean. My parents were Jamaican, wooed to this country by a similar coastline and weather. Perhaps, now it makes sense to you why the concrete compound did not feel like home to me.

That is when this chaotic city, known for its large heart, stepped in with a giant embrace. It nurtured my tender roots and in return I grew tall, my branches offering respite on hot evenings, while staying low enough for tiny feet to climb on and sprouting flowers for the devout.

Years passed and my girth expanded, imbibing the city spirit of stoic resilience and unmatched revelry. The longing for the Caribbean was replaced by a love for the spring colours of Holi and wet Ganpati visarjans. My acclimatised roots spread under the building structure, our fates fused together for eternity, or so we thought.

Together we battled winds of change – subtle ones, watching the trams gave way to fast cars and irreverent trucks and the brutal one – the monstrous flyover arching across our eyeline, blocking us out.

By now, we were getting old and feeling it too. My concrete buddy was leaking and cracking in places and my rotting branches were becoming a nuisance. Soon whispers of “redevelopment” grew louder, sounding the death knell for many time-worn buildings in the area.

We learnt of our fate when the sign went up. The building was to be demolished to make way for an upmarket multi-storey residential complex. We fought hard, deriving grim satisfaction from watching workers grunt as they struggled to separate me from the building. They did not notice that the uprooted branches they’d flung aside carried buds and it astonished them to see the flowers the next day. That was why I was called “immortal”, for this ability to defy death. Yet, at that moment felt as if I was laying our own funeral flowers, a nod to a friendship lasting more than half a century.

A bellowing gust of wind soon displaced the flowers, and in doing so, scattered seeds of hope – to be born again, to reclaim my corner – a phoenix rising from its own ashes.

About the author: Asha Krishna writes short stories and flash fiction. She lives in the UK but spent her formative years in Bombay. She used to live in this road-facing building with the Frangipani flower tree in the front. She recently went back and saw that the building and the tree had disappeared.  That got her thinking what if the tree could speak…

This piece is a part of our series celebrating trees, and welcoming the summer. Read more about it here, and you can also find out how you can contribute to the series.

Photograph by Prerna Shah

Noticing the trees around you this spring?

Whether you are in Himachal (Pradesh) or Karnataka or Gujarat – or for that matter, any part of India, you cannot help but notice how the arrival of spring has made the trees bloom and burst into colourful blossoms.

It’s true that we all seem to take more notice of the trees around us in spring. Those vibrant hues of orange, yellows, purples and pinks have us spellbound.

From the flame of the forest to the silk cotton tree, Indian Coral tree…so many trees catch our attention.

And while we revel in the beauty of trees in spring, we are rather grateful for the very presence of trees around us in summer.

As the mercury rises, we are so thankful for the trees in public spaces – the canopy of a tree shielding us from the harsh afternoon sun as we stop at a traffic signal or the shade of a tree giving us a perfect spot to park our vehicles. So many vendors operate their small businesses from under the canopy of a tree – from cobblers, street food sellers, those who mend and repair torn bags or faulty zips…

But trees in public domain are often disappearing. Or being replaced by trees that are not really native.

That is why we are asking you to share memories of your favourite trees – those that you find in the public domain. Tell us what attracts you to the tree/s, do you find that they are in abundance or disappearing, have you been able to plant a sapling and nurture it to a tree, have you been part of a group that helps our cities and neighbourhoods develop a green cover, and in doing so, have you faced any obstacles…

In 350 words or so. If you want us to call you, and take down notes and write it down, we are happy to do so too.

This way, we celebrate and welcome spring at The Good Story Project, and we prepare for the onset of the great Indian summer. We also ensure that the ‘seeds’ are planted – seeds of hope, and of greener cities and urban areas.

We would also like to have inputs from children as they are our future heirs – heirs to the neighbourhoods and cities that we will leave them with.

Email us your stories at contactgoodstories@gmail.com, and if you have, a photograph of the tree/s as well.