My introduction to the world of Nature was a painful one. Aged five, I was coming down the spiral staircase from the roof of our bungalow in Jamnagar State, when inadvertently I dislodged a beehive under one `of the steps. I was immediately attacked by a swarm of angry bees, who proceeded to sting me on my face, arms and legs. I got down the stairs and ran indoors, screaming for help.
Help came in the form of my father, who calmed me down and bathed me in a solution of potassium permanganate. After two feverish days in bed, I was up and about again. But I’d learnt that Nature isn’t always birdsong and dew-drenched daffodils.
There were other, more pleasant, aspects of the natural world that remain in my memory: collecting seashells on the beach, feeding the turkeys on the State’s turkey farm, wandering through a glade of tall cosmos flowers, watching the village boys wash down their buffaloes at the edge of the lake. by I grew up with an awareness of my natural surroundings-bee stings and all-and later this was buttressed by the sort of books and stories that I enjoyed reading—Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, the wonderland of Alice, the Mowgli stories, Ballantyne’s Coral Island and Hudson Bay, jack London’s White Fang, the Panchatantra and jataka Tales.
The literature that came my way between the ages of five and fifteen was of a kind that is rare today, for most modern writers appear to be preoccupied with urban backgrounds and concerns. I wish there was a Thoreau around, or a Richard Jefferies, or an H.E. Bates: writers who lived close to Nature and made it a part of their creative work.
I have done my best to follow in their footsteps- observing and recording the natural life around me, and working it into my stories, essays and poems. A comprehensive selection of these ‘Nature writings’ (spanning half a century!) is presented here. This is not a book of natural history, rather a record of my relationship with the natural world, which has sustained and inspired me over the years.
This is a relationship that has grown stronger and more meaningful ever since I came to live in the hills over forty years ago. ‘Is Nature your religion?’ someone asked, just the other day. It would be presumptuous to say so. Nature doesn’t promise you anything—an after life, rewards for good behaviour, protection from enemies, wealth, happiness, progeny, all the things that humans desire and pray for. No, Nature does not promise these things. Nature is a reward in itself.
It is there, to be appreciated, to be understood, to be lived and loved. And in its way it gives us everything—the bounty and goodness of the earth, the sea, the sky. Food, water, the air we breathe. All the things we take for granted.
And sometimes, when we take it too much for granted, or misuse its generosity, it turns against us and unleashes forces that overwhelm us—earthquake, tidal wave, typhoon, flood, drought. But then, Nature settles down again and resumes its generous ways. For it is all about renewal—seasons and the weather, sunlight and darkness, the urgency of growth, the fertility of the seed and the egg. Governments rise and fall, machines rust away, great buildings crumble, but mountains still stand, rivers flow to the sea, and the earth is clothed with grass and verdure.
Back of the Book
‘A delightful read…no one understands nature like Ruskin Bond and it takes his ability to put this wonder into words’
For over half a century, Ruskin Bond has celebrated the wonder and beauty of nature as few other contemporary writers have, or indeed can. This collection brings together the best of his writing on the natural world, not just in the Himalayan foothills that he has made his home, but also in the cities and small towns that he lived in or traveled through as a young man. In these pages, he writes of leopards padding down.
The lanes of Mussorie after dark, the first shower of the monsoon in Meerut that brings with it a tumult of new life, the chorus of insects at twilight outside his window, ancient banyan trees and the short-lived cosmos flower, a bat who strays into his room and makes a night less lonely…This volume proves, yet again, that for the serenity and lyricism of his prose and his sharp yet sympathetic eye, Ruskin Bond has few equals.
‘Bond uses his pen as a brush to paint sensuous images of his experiences with nature and beckons his readers into his imagination…a book that relaxes the eyes, rests the mind, lulls the noise and lets one drift into the idyllic life with nature that most of us are unable to lead’ -Dawn
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