Saturday, December 13, 2014
ICRISAT diary: 07 December 2014
An early morning sun haloed the landscape in golden light as I drove between fields of ploughed black soil, towards the dump near Patancheru cheruvu, where I hoped to see a frisky Bluethroat prance after insects. Lark song suddenly poured in through the open window, and I pulled over to the side of the track. An Indian Skylark was fluttering somewhere between the sun and me. I could not see it, but that did not matter, for it is one of those birds whose song surpasses its physical appearance in attractiveness.
I simply stood against the car, drenched in the glorious and profuse warbling emanating from his tiny, quivering syrinx. He drifted hither and thither on vibrating wings, exploding with the wound up energy of his voluble performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if his pinions fluttered with the kinetic fervor and excitement that consumed the little creature. I would like to believe that his ecstatic levitation and buoyancy were the result of that full-throated flood of uncontrollable sound rebounding from terra firma in aural waves and cushioning him in the ether.
Listening to him, all else fades away. I squint into the sun, but the bird is unseen, just his radiant melody floods down mesmerizing me with its repetitive strain, its slyly imitative descants, and its clever improvisations. His stamina is monstrous. The performance just goes on and on, never reducing in volume, never slowing down, and never faltering. Minutes pass and the aerial songster’s luminous art abides. What a magnificent moment; to stand still and listen to an invisible bird pouring out his heart through sunlit skies! To spy his partner crouched beside an upturned sod, awash in that rhapsodic serenade! To realize that the world’s magic, its charm, its achingly simple joys, are so easily within our reach; one simply has to connect with nature, or disconnect from artificiality.
When his time in the sun had run its course, his song ended abruptly, as though switched off, and he parachuted on cupped, outstretched wings, landing unobtrusively beside her. No one who didn’t know better, would believe that this superficially nondescript ball of feather was a virtuoso; that such a drab consumer of chitin and seed be so spectacularly endowed.
That is, precisely, the endearing charm of nature. She reveals her secrets at her own pace. Hurry she knows not, neither tolerates she impatience. But silence, stealth, and solitude are handy at divining her mysteries.