The peace that can be found among trees can be felt deep in the heart. They always give a sense of calm and happiness. Children who have known trees in their childhood see them as friends forever. Today, the chance to know a tree intimately are lesser, especially in cities. Swinging from branches like monkeys were what most of us remember from being younger. Pulling branches and eating fruit or collecting seeds to play, there was no fun in play without trees.
The sight of children playing between trees and running freely between them makes one feel, all is well with the world. Ruskin Bond written and Kollol Majumder illustrated The World of Trees is an informative and wonderfully written book to learn about trees, particularly in India.
Ruskin Bond talks of the Banyan, Mango, Palm, Mahua, Tamarind and Neem trees. All of it is written in simple, engaging language that is laden with information and legends.
The banyan is also very hospitable. Apart from boys and girls, it attracts a large number of visitors – birds, squirrels, insects, flying foxes – and many interesting creatures actually live in the tree full of dark, private corners suitable for a variety of tenants. The banyan is rather like a hotel or boarding-house in which a number of families live next door to each other without interfereing very much in each other’s business.
The writer gives us insights on the going-ons on te banyan tree, some of which we are never really privy to.
While the young leaves are still pink and tender, they are visited by the delicate Map Butterfly, who leaves her eggs in their care. The ‘honey’ on the leaves – a sweet, sticky smear – also attracts the little striped squirrels.
The Banyan and the Peepal are cousins, being as they are of the fig family, Mr.Bond tells us. He tells us about how the Banyan’s supporting roots are considered Shiva’s matted hair .
Trust him to start an introduction to the Peepul as no one else would.
In some ways peepal trees are great show-offs. Even when there is no breeze, their beautiful leaves spin like tops, determined to attract your attention and invite you into their shade. And not only do they send down currents of cool air, but their long slender tips are also striking together to make a sound like the pattering of raindrops.
What an amazing mental picture and how they bring back to mind all the beautiful peepul trees one passes ever so often near temples and streets.
Bond reserves the last chapter for his beloved Himalayas and it’s trees. He speaks here of the Deodars, Oaks, Pines, Walnut, Peach and Apple trees. The rhododendrons he informs us unlike the ones in Europe that are shrubs, are trees in the Himalayas.
During the flowering season, the forest floor is strewn with fallen petals. The hill people make a very tasty chutney from the flowers. The flower-cups are full of nectar, and sometimes parties of noisy black bulbuls get quite drunk by drinking too freely from them.
The apple tree sleeps as if in a slumber, waking in March full of blossoms and ripen amid the hum of the honey-bees. In June can be found apples ranging from green to ruby red. Having relished many an apple, to know more about it as a tree is a delight indeed.
If you have an abiding love for trees and want to share them with children you know, The World of Trees is the book to read.