Xmas day 2021 and of course thoughts turn to family, loved ones and those who’ll spend it alone (#joinin on twitter) – peace and kindness to all.
I’ve wondered what to write about today, but yesterday’s chance encounter with an elephant moved me to say more about Sri Lanka’s extraordinary flora and fauna. The rich, deep, soil, tropical climate and abundant rainfall that collects in the forests and lakes, set the stage for life to flourish. After visiting Kandy’s botanical and spice garden earlier in the week, the fauna has been introducing itself.
Yesterday evening I jumped at a frog perched peacefully on my bathroom sink, a scout no doubt for the multitude that preach to the paddy fields at sunset. By morning it had gone as mysteriously as it had arrived. Then there’s the ice cream van that announces its round by playing Greensleeves through a hoarse little Tannoy. That seems to excite a flock of wild peacocks, as they join in from their roost up in the trees. Then the toucans that always hang out in pairs with their loud and distinctive baritone hoots, distinct from, but complementary to, the flying foxes that chatter noisily before swooping off into the night to feed.
Once it’s dark, fireflies dance in the garden, and yesterday at dusk a huge swarm of flying ants disgorged itself from the nest that runs the length of the little restaurant block here. Thousands of the critters left the safety of their underground nursery to take their chance with the birds and bats that soon gathered to enjoy the annual, self delivering takeaway.
Monkeys abound, and yes they’re cheeky, roaming rooftops, scavenging food through open windows, patrolling along phone lines, and hanging out at tourist spots waiting for opportunity to knock.
On the way back from visiting the huge palace complex of King Nissankamalla (who lent his name to a popular 70’s car;), a two metre Komodo dragon held up proceedings by standing in the road, taking in the view, and possibly the stares of the traffic he held up. Though we beeped our horns to move him on, I noticed no one got out to press the matter.
And then there was this fella, whom I came across as we both ambled down the same road. Though wild, he looked pretty relaxed, but when he took exception to me being on the same side as him, and I looked into his deep, dark eyes, it was clear who needed to give way. Though we like to think we do, we do not have dominion over nature .
But one creature I haven’t seen, though it’s that time of year, is a little donkey…
Plants and wildlife are next level here, though life’s not always easy. Mootu hangs out where I’m staying and Ranjith the owner remarked how he’s old like us (cheers mate). I’m thankful to be better fed than Mootu and to have a more comfortable bed. Though he was suspicious to begin with, I think I’m earning his trust through food and soft words; he now sleeps on the doormat outside my door. I guess you don’t have to be great with child to appreciate kindness, a bed and something to eat.
Namaste, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.