Nature Notes
Driftwood
-By Rani Iyer

It was a particularly nasty day in the month of October. The winds were howling, grey cumulus and a drizzle chattered through day and night chilled us to our bones. We were on a field trip. Measuring slick trees for their diameter and checking for the presence of flowers and fruits, four of us worked in silence. We dared not pause for lunch or take a coffee break. Early in the evening, our job was done.
From the heights of the shola, we drove downhill to the nearest town to find food. Soon, we headed towards the river. Late in the evening, the clear skies with spectacular panorama of setting sun welcomed us. We walked on the sandy banks of the shore, each one silent with their own thoughts. Soon, we drifted into our chosen directions. I headed towards a shallow rock pool.

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Immersing my feet in the cool water, I relaxed immediately. Dragonflies tried to chase me away, damsel files hovered around me and an inquisitive bee wanted to alight on my arm. The gentle murmur of the water, the soft caress of the breeze, and the silence of the river was a pleasant contrast to the furious morning. I watched the water glide from one rock to another on a great green carpet. Then there were tiny tadpoles that swam away, while fishes cleaned my feet. Bunch of rushes nodded companionably. In the setting sun, the smooth pebbles glittered like gold and precious stones. The shallow water shimmered in multitude of hues. Even a fallen, floating leaf acquired a golden hue. In the shallows an odd piece of red wood came tumbling. I picked up the driftwood on this estuary, way down to the sea. It had weathered, and developed soft pliable nature, unlike any wood I had seen. The pretty red colour had dulled to pink and bleached to white in places. A splendid memento, I thought.
In the morning, I walked back to the river to return it. As the driftwood dived and tumbled away, I felt humbled by its journey.



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