Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Butea monosperma

"Butea monosperma (Flame of the Forest)", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Butea monosperma is a species of Butea native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, ranging across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and western Indonesia.

Common names for this tree include Palash, Dhak, Flame of the Forest, Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree and Keshu.  In West Bengal, it is associated with spring, especially through the poems and songs of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who likened its bright orange flame-like flower to fire. In Santiniketan, where Tagore lived, this flower has become an indispensable part of the celebration of spring.

Historically, Butea monosperma forests covered much of the doab area between the Ganges and Yamuna, but these were cleared for agriculture in the early 19th century as the English East India Company increased tax demands on the peasants.  It is used for timber, resin, fodder, medicine, and dye. The wood is dirty white and soft and is durable even under water. Good charcoal can be made from it.  The gum from the tree, called kamarkas in Hindi, is used in certain food dishes. 

The leaves are usually very leathery.  In poorer regions, this tree provides leaves that are used either with many pieced together to make a leaf-plate for serving a meal on, and, for example,  a would-be son-in-law was in times past was tested on his dexterity in making a plate and bowl (for serving more liquid parts of the meal such as daal or stew) before being declared acceptable by the would be father-in-law.

The flowers are used to prepare a traditional Holi colour. It is also used as a dyeing color for fabric. This plant kills mosquitoes. They are attracted by the smell and color of the flower. Eggs that are laid into the liquid within the flower will never hatch. Any mosquito that touches the fluid can never escape from it.

"Butea monosperma (Flame of the Forest) Tree"

I would love to see these trees in their natural habitat.  Can you imagine the colour explosion you would experience in a grove of such trees with the sun shining brightly upon them?  It would, indeed, look as though the trees were on fire!



Braden and his Dad went swimming recently and, as you can tell from the photos below, Braden seemed to be enjoying himself -- but he was really tired by the time they started for home!

"Don't worry, Braden, I've got you"

"See, swimming is a lot of fun!"

"Did you enjoy going swimming, Braden?"



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Suki is very puzzled this morning.  She cannot figure out why we are up so early!  Normally, we would still be sound asleep at 5:30 a.m., but not today.  Instead, I am at the computer, writing this post while occasionally glancing at the muted TV across the room.  I am on "smoke watch"!  Suki is watching me.

Suki has made it very clear that if we are going to be up so early that the very least I can do is feed her.  But I have told her that I will feed her at her regular breakfast time -- that she doesn't need to eat until then.  She does not agree and so she sits and watches, waiting for any sign that I might be about to get up and go into the kitchen!  Hope, indeed, does spring eternal even in the kitty cat breast!

Otherwise, there is really nothing new to report as Suki has been reasonably well behaved of late -- which doesn't make for interesting stories, but does make my life easier.

Speaking of my life, I feel I must confess that I have not been very happy over these past few days -- in fact, I have been downright grumpy!  Let me explain.

From the time I posted to my blog this past Sunday at 9 a.m., I spent the next 36 hours without any Restless Leg problems.  Since I have been suffering so terribly from this neurological disorder of late, I was cautiously delighted.  I was almost convinced that the natural remedies I had started using several weeks ago were actually working.  Perhaps I had found the right formula that would keep me distress-free indefinitely!

Well, Monday night about 8 p.m., the symptoms returned with a vengeance -- I could not do anything except try to find relief from the distressing symptoms -- I could not watch TV, I could not read, I could not work on the computer, I could not draw on the computer and I could not sleep.  Hour after hour I tried every remedy at my disposal until the symptoms finally eased a bit and I feel into an exhausted sleep.  During all this, I was crying out to God as Job did.  I even told God what St. Teresa of Avila had told Him:  "if this is how you treat Your friends, it is no wonder that You have so few of them!"  I was just plain tired to trying to accept whatever God was allowing into my life and wanted to complain -- which I did, much to my sorrow as by Tuesday morning, the symptoms had settled again and I still remain symptom free this morning -- almost 24 hours later.

Now, as I try once again to return to that place of peaceful acceptance of whatever God permits, I keep remembering all those unkind things I said to our dear Lord when the suffering seemed as though it would never end.  All I really needed to do was to look at the crucifix so that I would be forcibly reminded of how agonizingly our Lord suffered hour after hour -- not for His own crimes but for mine -- and yours.  I simply still do not understand that kind of love.  I pray to God that someday I will.  Meanwhile, I will try to pick up my cross once again and follow Him.  Please pray for me.

Now, as I continue to wait for the "smoke watch" to begin in earnest on my TV screen, I wish all of you true joy -- the joy that is a gift of the Holy Spirit and which enables us to say:  "the joy of the Lord is my strength"!

The kind of joy that will fill our hearts when we hear those wonderful words:  "Habemus papam" and know that the Church once again has a Holy Father, Christ's visible representative on earth.

May peace be with us all.

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