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Laid-back living

June 16, 2012

The lazy hazy days of mountain summer are a luxury not to be denied if, that is, one has the sense to step back, slow down and surrender to the beauty of the moment. Such moments are all too fleeting, so they must be grasped and devoured with glee!

Summer was late this year — the vagaries of suddenly dramatic climate change bringing snow at the end of April and an endless parade of roof-rattling thunderstorms for weeks on end — the sweetness of its delayed arrival appreciated by all life forms coexisting in this upland world so far away from the ‘madding crowd’. The summer holidays begin and the ‘madding crowd’ head this way too but who can blame them.

As the first wild clematis unfurls delicate, mauve tinted petals, to the bluing skies so too does the aroma of warming earth and candle-bearing horse chestnuts and drowsy bright new green leaves.

Hard on the heels of clematis entwined in trees come magnificent hanging garlands of luminous white, strongly perfumed, wild roses to which honey bees throng and through which butterflies drift on endless dreams as nesting birds play hide and seek, caroling as they go, in and out of burgeoning undergrowth and breeze blown treetops.

Human kind is, all too often, a trespasser in this place of wild beauty and natural order: overloaded, overpacked vehicles belching exhaust fumes race around the narrow roads of this sanctuary to the detriment of all, the garbage carelessly tossed from their open windows adding to the desecration of a once pristine land that is slowly but surely being destroyed by those lacking any measure of respect for the natural world on which, when the line is drawn, all depend for the continuity of life.

Local people though, whilst far from immune to careless destruction and thoughtless garbage disposal, do, on the whole, tend to adjust their way of life in rhythm with the weather and when the summer sun radiates mellow peacefulness through the scattered dwellings they slow down, relax and enjoy whatever comes their way… this often means watermelons!

Village women chat on open verandas shaded by trees and entertained by bird song as children play in the open and the men drift around doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Elders stretch out on charpoys, letting the sun arm their bones and add yet more weather wrinkles to those already carved on their benign faces; buffaloes wallow in fragrant new and soft grass, kept company by scratching chickens and foraging goats with kids frolicking at their heels and both swifts and swallows knife effortlessly through the thin mountain air.

Dawn comes early now, the sun gliding rosily in to sight over the far mountains, the Pir Panjal range across the valley and River Jhelum in Azad Kashmir and far away from Murree and, as summer days stretch in to summer evenings, precious memories are made and stored secretly away for winter telling.