Summer has long been associated in our minds with sweat, discomfort, heat and a general sense of “when will this get over” in our country. Like all things natural, we look at summer in the same way one looks at a dry deciduous forest. It doesn’t have the green of a tropical forest, but it is just beauty of a different kind. In fact, summer and monsoon are two sides of the same coin and one would not exist without the other. So in that sense, it’s also a necessary part of the process.
The landscapes in our collectives have transformed dramatically. The chilly mornings of February have given way to the early break of dawn and the heat setting in by 8:30 am. So naturally, we adapt to this change. The work hours shift towards the cooler parts of the day and the nights are a lot more active than they used to be. The beauty of it is how it showcases resilience. Rural India is the last place in our minds to have flexi-hours but here it is!
The streams have completely dried up and the mighty Kembuva Poley at the Poomaale Estate, is reduced to a little trickle, as the estates downstream pump out water 24×7 for their irrigation. Forest systems have a large bandwidth of tolerance when it comes to changing conditions. This March for example, was the hottest in 120 years. But the Kembuva Poley hasn’t dried out completely and is still flowing. That is the trick about building resilient landscapes. There’s a lot of buffer built over the years, incrementally that one can survive the few shocks that come our way.
Incidentally, and what might be very counter intuitive, our nursery work reaches a peak in summer. There are many reasons for this. Firstly its work in the shade, so the staff is naturally more inclined to do it over the estate work. Secondly, we are close to the monsoon and that means we need to get the sapling bank ready. That is the single point agenda at all the collectives in March and April. Poomaale is ready with its 3,000 saplings this time while Hyderabad is getting to its target of 15,000 saplings.
It may be summer right now, it may be too hot to work in the day, but it’s all hands on deck right now at Beforest.