Part 2. The Weather King.
The western sky is still bright but huge foreboding clouds begin to gather on the eastern horizon. Things are stirring; pressures rising.
Overnight the wind changes direction and becomes oppressive, even threatening. It brings with it a dusty smell that batters one’s nostrils. Men start to look at the ground and animals to the skies. All sense that glorious life-giving rains are coming.
As the winds build, the weakest trees are buffered and decimated - nature’s coppicing - keeping the remaining forests strong. Whilst deer gather in the open glades and meadows, the big cats hide away behind bamboo clumps or retreat to their favourite dens; dry caves in the hills.
Soon thunder drums start beating in the darkening skies, a sure sign of the forthcoming deluge. The Weather King is arriving. The black sky from the east opens its arms to grab the whole western horizon, before spreading its liquid love across the parched earth.
All creatures great and small look happy to see the King. They all want to feel him and he generously obliges them all.
The Monsoon completely transforms life in the jungle. New season’s fruits of juicy orange mango and Java plum ripen in a few days, whilst the limp bamboo and other vegetation goes green and succulent within days of the first showers. Once wilted leaves gain strength overnight and now sway in drunken joy to the winds, as if fermented nectar had been slid down their trunks. The birds now feel more comfortable on terra firma than perched in swaying branches buffeted from side to side.
Large Serpent eagles look for spawning frogs and white-throated kingfishers seek out the tiny movement of baby skinks, themselves feeding on the smorkasbord of insects that have suddenly appeared. Noisy Jungle babblers turn leaves to catch cockroaches and the Paradise flycatcher sways her immense tail feather to attract unwary insects to feed to her young chicks. More than ever monsoon is a question of survival. Some kill and some are killed.
Around the new puddles newly hatched swordtail butterflies land on the mud to suck up a rich mineral soup to boost their reproductive success. But it’s a dangerous game. Many die in its warm embrace.
That's how the monsoon restores life in this central Indian jungle.
Enjoyed this - See Part one here