Evening on the Wissahickon

I came not from the old world but from the ancient world, India. I was indeed captivated by the cityscapes, the feats of man-made structures and the exploits of architectural niches in the new world. When I could get past those magnificent cities, I’ve felt “world is big” all the time. Cities make me claustrophobic. American charm doesn’t end in cities. It is true soul lies in the great wilderness. I’ve been to only 5 states so far – fascinated by nature in each one of it. Colossal Niagara falls, giant Saguaro cactus, red woods touching the sky, I’ve lost words… pondering nature, creation, and God.

It has been only 6 months in Philadelphia – getting to know the history and culture. I’ve no idea how I landed in the article about “The lost gold mine of Wissahickon” from Google. Eventually found about Friends of Wissahickon and registered for the history trail along the Forbidden Drive. Trial guide Sarah West is very knowledgeable and patient in answering our questions. My American husband, who was born in Philadelphia, had not ventured past the Historic Rittenhouse Town until last weekend. When we pulled in the parking lot heavily shielded under trees with the creek running alongside, both of us didn’t know what lay ahead of us.

Wissahickon Creek

Wissahickon Creek

Wilderness

Wilderness

Wissahickon Creek runs 23 miles passing thru northwest Philadelphia, joins Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Wikipedia says its name come from Lenape word “wiessahitkonk”, for “catfish creek” or “stream of yellowish color”. Mills of Wissahickon were producing paper to gun powder making it the first industrial area of North America. The first paper mill in America was built by William Rittenhouse during early 18th century. Benjamin Franklin noted without the mills, Wissahickon can supply pure water to Philadelphia. Eventually Fairmount Park Commission acquired 1,800 acres of the Wissahickon Valley in 1868 and demolished all the mills along the creek. Wissahickon turnpike was permanently closed to automobiles making the turnpike, “Forbidden Drive”. When the rest of America continue to become industrialized, Wissahickon slowly returned to original wilderness.

Bridge History

Bridge History

Bridge

Bridge

It is not just history that makes stop talking and hones other senses tingles with enthusiasm. Wissahickon valley is Wissahickon schist, prime bedrock underlying the Philadelphia region. This is Precambrian to Cambrian stone, has flecks of glittery mica, small garnets, and many-toned shadings of gray, brown, orange, and blue. I was jumping in joy as I started to spot mice and garnets in the schist. We loved the history walk and the region in general. My husband and I resolved to trail in the 1800 acres as much as we can and to bring our kids in the future for a practical hands on lesson on geology, history, and nature.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

Schist with Sparkling Mica

Schist with Sparkling Mica

To me, after all these years, I can feel “Evening on the Wissahickon” is still close to “Morning on the Wissahiccon” 🙂

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My Most Beautiful Masterpiece

One of the famous quotes from Claude Monet is “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”. Here is mine. My mother had a great garden while growing up in the most amazing mountains of Western Ghats, Kodaikanal in India. She had beans, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, and about a million rose plants. Life took us to the busiest cities in the world – Chennai, and Bangalore. My mother moved on to container gardening. I’m grateful for the small yard in the traditional row houses of Philly as I moved in with my husband after wedding. As much as I love snow, I was waiting for spring. I had my stock of indoor container plants long before that – Golden Pothos, Chinese Money Tree, Lucky Bamboo, succulents that I picked up in Philadelphia Flower Show 2015, and the Key Lime and Valencia Orange dwarf trees as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband 😉

I started with the Garden Tenders training by PHS in March of this year as I really want to understand gardening from northeastern to tropical style. They also gave me some seeds to start – I picked up broccoli, spinach, onions – all organic ones. My style is organic and self-sustaining. It took me a while to start gardening as I got busy with the kitchen remodeling and started on first week of May, slowly digging working next to my husband. It was back breaking but at the same time loads of fun too. I bought the $1 stepping stones from Dollar Tree to mark the boundary for the garden. I also got some cute decoration as they say bright shiny objects ward off birds. Stuck plastic cutleries to shoo neighborhood cats. Planted the seeds from PHS Garden Tenders and added strawberry patch, blueberry bushes in containers. Moved my container trees out to bask in the bright sunlight and gentle spring showers. There are some valuable lessons learnt from internet too – citrus peels and moth ball in plastic containers with holes will deter cats from using my evergreen shrubs as their bathroom. I took the “shiny objects” lesson seriously – got the Slinky Wheels for $1, put some metallic streamers to avoid birds, later added balloons learning and improvising as I go – spending frugally at the same time ecofriendly measures to grow garden. Here is my masterpiece.

Garden

Garden

Vegetables

Vegetables

Fenugreek

Fenugreek and Green Chili

Containers

Key Lime, Valencia Orange, Bluberries

Bless

Bless this Garden

Couple

Cute Frog Couple

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.” ― Claude Monet

Red, White, and Blue

You got to honor 4th of July especially in Philadelphia. There is no fun in buying wreaths so I made one 🙂 I get carried away easily at Michaels or Jo Ann. I can be all over and have this innate feeling of wanting every single thing in there. My husband was carrying burlap, paper stars, glitter, pins, glue, yarn, and several assorted things that didn’t make sense together. After 40 minutes of walking, I finally decided to keep it simple. I got this foam wreath base, blue streamers, red and white metallic papers, Americana star, and pins of course. I could put the wreath together after dinner while my husband was doing dishes 🙂

Independence Day

Independence Day

My husband is the BEST in the whole wide world!!!

Painting the Door Red

I really wanted to get my hands on the door since our wedding last December. Unforgiving snow and freezing cold stopped me from jumping on to it. Here comes the spring and here is the door.

red-door golden-door

While thinking of colors, I was immediately drawn to red. I looked up to find red door has profound significance in different cultures. After learning the meaning, I was hooked on to red door.

China – Tradition of painting red on front door before New Year is to invite good luck and tradition to home. Also in Feng Shui, the front door is known as the “Mouth of Chi” where energy enters and painting the front door red will create welcoming energy of opportunities and abundance.

Ireland – A red door is believed to ward off ghosts or evil spirits.

Scotland – Homeowners paint their front door red to proclaim the happy news that they have paid off their mortgage.

Bible – References in Old Testament says smearing blood of a lamb on the front doors to protect their first born from the angel of death. In old Catholicism, red door on the church represents the blood of Christ. Passing through the red door means sanctuary and that you were on holy ground. Some Protestant and most Lutheran churches also painted church doors red to identify them as part of the “reformation”.

Hinduism – Goddess Sakthi is symbolized in red color and she means action and happening. Temples were painted white and red to denote Shiva-Sakthi union.

America – In good old America, a red door is a sign of welcome to the passing horse and buggy traveler. They would know that the home is a place where they could rest.

Above all, I read Einstein painted his door red so as to remember his home. I seemed to like all the symbolisms. To add a quaint touch of Indian, I painted the storm door bars golden. To signify our union, American flag flies cheerfully in Indian gold door 🙂 Home, sweet home!

 

To Strive, To Seek, To Find, & Not To Yeild

How could I’ve possibly got Ulysses to read today? I was searching for my old notes, and to surprise and goosebumps… this reflects exactly my mood searching for continuity between past and future…

Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles!

~ Ulysses, Lord Tennyson

Goodbye, Motherland!

The first thing I remember “learning” in school apart from generic language and math during the first few years in school is “India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country. I’m proud of its rich and varied heritage…” My voice still echoes in my head during the school assembly on Monday mornings that includes Indian National Pledge and National Anthem. I have said those words with much gusto even though I could not understand the depth of its meaning those days. These words have the magic of making heart filled with love and courage. Anytime I leave India, I would start longing to come back. Of course there were times I just wanted to get the hell out of here. Disgusting politics, lack of governance, hypocrisy, and total chaos everywhere makes me squirm with anger. Leaving the politics and hypocrisy aside, there is some kind of harmony in that chaos. I came from this chaos, it’s my roots. I can be at peace with this chaos and its freedom. Leaving all that for the love of my life is resolutely romantic – no doubt! Life sure is going to be more colorful in the land of dreams where anything is possible but I’ve trouble of letting it go. Change is massive – whiff of curry masala that tickles brain cells to release ghrelin on the street from the chaat or dosa stalls to not-so-smell intensive salty pretzels, luscious green paddy and sugarcane fields to questionable GM corn and soy fields, colorfully less appealing milk and rice sweets to vibrantly colored cakes with artificial colorants, mango trees protected by its natural warriors – the marching red ants to simple apple trees, giant, gnarly, majestic figs and teaks to sequoias and red woods, friendly pomegranate and gooseberry to maple and cherry trees, currency notes that has the big toothless smile of Mahatma Gandhi to stern face of Benjamin Franklin, peacocks to eagles, lotus to rose… I’m dreading the day of leaving India. Poraale Ponnu Thaaye song catches my mood perfectly and here is my bad translation…

Golden girl is leaving, crying incessantly
Leaving the land that gave water and food
Leaving the cows that gave milk
Leaving the birds on their cage
This girl leaves her country…

What kind of flower is she?
Dainty marigold that reaches God?
Or the one that goes unnoticed on a dirty shrub?
While people yearn for her in homeland,
She leaves like lifeless cargo on a hayride…

All her affection, all her bonds
Speaks the language of dumb hearts
Southern winds are blowing in wrong direction
Monsoon clouds are running away
A living crop is withering…

It’s been long since my throat went dry
This soul is dangling between home and far away
All saved treasures have become unusable
Untold words are weighing heavy
There is a distance between food and relations
Just wait, there is a good life for this poor girl tomorrow …

Happily Ever After

OurFairyTale
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a beautiful young girl who had become lost while traveling. As the sun set and the moon rose over the land of the free and home to the brave, she happened upon a splendid castle. After knocking on the massive doors and being brought inside, she met the queen mother who liked her instantly. This innocent girl claimed that she is the princess of the oriental wisdom and riches, showed the queen mother her paintings. Queen mother summoned her son to meet the princess. Royal duties had the princess sent back to her land. She wrote a love note to the prince on the fluffy cloud with the blue ink she got from the sky. The prince responded with a big letter acknowledging her note. King and the queen fell ill and became sick. The prince took over the throne and watched over them until they moved to the kingdom above to be with the King of kings. Everyone praised the prince turned out into this charming and handsome king who is filled with love and compassion. Princess met the king on different occasions while travelling. The king also made a trip to land of oriental wisdom and riches and asked their queen mother for her daughter’s hand in marriage. The king and the princess were waiting for the royal approval of their impending wedding at his court. Once they got the approval, the princess travels again, now with her family, to the land far, far away to get married. The king marries the princess and makes his bride, a queen. He sweeps her off her feet and takes her to his castle, where they live happily ever after…
HappilyEverAfter