Shadow, reflection and showers

I feel as if the dry season has stretched a little this year.  Weeks and months creep past, with hardly a drop of rain.  Showers which we can mark in the calendar.  Yes, that was the week it rained, we remember. A January rainstorm and an April downpour.  Aberrations, punctuating the increasingly stifling heat building around us. We start to dream of rain, to imagine we hear drops falling.  The wind rises, whispering promises of rain soon, soon.  My heart soared two weeks ago, on a stuffy Saturday afternoon when I heard that unmistakable sound of large, bulging raindrops falling outside. Raindrops I could count, and see their mark on the ground briefly before they were swallowed by the parched ground.  There is only one thing to be done on hearing this sound, and catching the scent of fresh rain in the air.  Before I know what has happened, I am in the garden, face upturned and arms outstretched, welcoming those first delicious rains onto my face, smiling and laughing like a child.  The shower might be brief but so refreshes the mind and body and sharpens the anticipation of the rains.

The rain came again on Tuesday, hidden while I was inside the airport building and unseen until boarding.  Such a sense of disappointment and being cheated, at not being able to watch or feel the rain as it swept in.  The rain on a runway is not the rain I had been dreaming of, nor the rain streaked horizontally across the cabin windows in the aircraft. Nor the dramatic rain storms underneath while we were kept on hold above our destination. It might have been “not quite the right kind of rain” but it was a renewed promise of monsoon.

It has rained every afternoon since then.  Bulky clouds with attitude gathering in the sky, thunder rumbling and cracking, spirited breezes materialising from nowhere and rains teeming down. Alongside a renewed energy and exuberance within each of us. The frogs are wakening and critters being washed from their hiding places. The landscape will quickly change.

And so too does my image for now.  Over this dry season, I have become increasingly fascinated with the play of light, of shadows and of reflection as I struggle to get to know my camera, and try to capture glimpses of magic I see around me.

I am also a little naughty with the concept of “selfie” photography and have my own version which protects my privacy yet places me in my environment.  The “Shadow Selfie” is what I call it.  Now that the rains are moving in I am sure there will be less shadow and I have therefore chosen an image which comes from this very special time when the season starts to turn, and the trees come to life with their array of colour.  I particularly love the jacaranda and could not resist a “shadow selfie” under a blossoming jacaranda tree as I paused on my cycle home from my early morning swim.

Shadow selfie and fallen Jacaranda blossom
Shadow selfie and fallen Jacaranda blossom

The jacaranda is already shedding its colours as the season changes.

All the more reason to preserve it just a little longer.

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A shift in the seasons

The season is shifting. The daytime warmth is now an uncomfortable, sticky heat and we start to yearn for the rains.  The cool mornings have started to warm a little, but not as much as the seasonal usual.  And not enough to nurture the budding mangoes.  I fear a poor mango season is ahead.

On my way to work the other morning, I stopped near the traffic lights as usual to buy strings of threaded jasmine blossom.  The regular seller handed me my strings, and as I moved forward I lifted them to my face without thinking, breathing in the sweet scent. He ran back towards me, proffering a small blossom of the newly flowering tree, known as the university blossoms, the Myanmar word sounding to me like “gangkaw”. “It smells good” he told me in Myanmar, and gave me the stem to take with me before disappearing into the traffic again to sell his flowers.  These moments warm my soul, and brighten my outlook.  Especially when my personal outlook is clouded by the next rounds of scans and checks, which will be upon me before the month is out. I try and put these thoughts to the side, hiding them in the heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers watching over me.

yangon gangkohThe sight of the flower on my desk throughout the day brought many remarks and smiles. I learned that there are many of these blossoms on trees flowering at the university. The flower is associated with students, learning, summer, graduation and the forthcoming Thingyan Water Festival. As the season shifts, there are signs all around. The first glimpses of jacaranda, plastic padauk flowers for sale and the proliferation of the Gangkaw flowers with their sweet, heavy scent.

The shadow of the Gangaw flower falling on the girl's face

The shadow of the Gangaw flower falling on the girl’s face

It is hard to imagine that on this day a year ago, I arrived in Scotland and was greeted by perishing temperatures and snow. But as the season shifts here, those signs are visible across the globe too.  The stretching of the daylight hours in Scotland, and the appearance of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils all heralding the coming spring.

Therefore, I have chosen to change my background image, to one of the Island of Lismore, Scotland which was actually taken a a few years ago when I spent a number of weeks there in my father’s home early that year.

Lismore, Scotland as spring approaches

Lismore, Scotland as spring approaches

No matter where we are on the planet, time moves forward and we should choose carefully those precious images and memories which we want to take with us.

On a bicycle built for three

After sharing the picture of the three people on a bicycle (the young woman, baby and man)  as part of the week celebrating the ordinary, I was spurred on to fulfil my own plan to get myself a bicycle.

Now there is another reason for this plan, and that is linked to a change in the place where I will be going for my morning swim as the dry season rolls in.  Instead of having a walk of less than 10 minutes, the new pool is just over 20 minutes walk away.  That would make a walk of 40 minutes just getting to and from the pool.  Added to that would be a 35 – 40 minute half mile swim, followed by the time needed for showering and changing.  I would need to get up around 5 am to be able to do that all before breakfast!  Or be very late to work every day. Neither option appealed particularly.  Hence the plan to acquire a bike!

Saturday was taken up with the usual tasks and bits and pieces, and disappeared rather rapidly.  On Sunday I was determined to get out and scope the bike shops, getting a sense of what might be available, price ranges and sizes.  Size is very important on account of my legs being a good bit shorter than the average adult legs! (In the gym, my feet can’t reach the pedals on one of the 3 exercise bikes, so that rather limits my choice if the wrong 2 are in use!)  I had my heart set on returning home by the end of the day, with a bike sticking out of the boot of the taxi!

Happily hubby J had been doing a good pre-scoping exercise and had a bike in mind, so our trip round the first shop was quick and confirmed the range of what was available.  Or not available in terms of my requirements!  So we headed out of town next, to the bigger bike shop which had basic, non fancy, non mountain, non geared-to-the-hilt bikes.  I neither wanted nor needed more than 2 or 3 gears.  I can’t use more than that and anyway, it gets too complicated!

It was a nice drive out of town towards a local market and temple area bustling with activity.  But to my utter disappointment I found that the bike shop was most decidedly closed.  And the bike hubby J had identified as “my ideal bike” was locked away safely inside.

There was another bike shop nearby and I did have a good scout around that, giving clear guidance to hubby in terms of my requirements.  It had to be small.  But with big wheels.  It had to have sit-up-and-beg handlebars.  A basket on the front was important, though that of course could be fitted later.  Blue would be good.  Of course!  And the minimum of gears.  And a happy sounding bell!

Now my heart was set on the bike, and there was no possibility of me getting back to the shop before Saturday, I conceded that hubby should undertake “operation bike procurement” at the soonest.  As in Monday morning.

So when I arrived home from work on Monday evening, this is what was waiting for me in the porch…………………….

……. my beautiful new, shiny “Feisty Blue Gecko” bike, with 3 gears, sit-up-and-beg handlebars, a seat so low my feet can touch the ground, a basket on the front, a space for passengers on the back.

And a very happy sounding bicycle bell!  🙂 🙂 🙂