I’ve now lost count of the number of weeks I’ve been here in my lovely little cottage in this beautiful forest retreat but I arrived 22nd February so that’s three months ago!!! Where has that time gone? Despite my intentions to have seen a bit more of India by now I have so enjoyed staying in one place and seeing the land change as the seasons have moved from the end of winter through spring to the onset of summer. When I arrived it was pretty cold and often rainy and the days have gradually got longer, warmer and drier and now it is like a lovely English summer with temperatures nudging towards a balmy mid twenties on some days. The nights however are thankfully still cool which I prefer as I really don’t like very hot temperatures especially for sleeping. Temperatures will reach mid thirties before the monsoons start so that will be testing.
I’ve tried to keep a daily journal but sometimes my days are so full that I either forget or just don’t seem to have time to sit down and write for an hour. Elizabeth Gilbert, who is one of many people that have been inspiring me during the last few months, recommends being diligent in allocating an hour a day to writing no matter how you feel and I have really been trying to do that.
So what have I been up to this last month since I wrote my last blog….
Well I’ve continued to spend time with the children either helping them out with work from school or being creative making mandalas, painting, cooking, dancing and we even made a film which was great fun.
I’ve done a little work in the garden but not enough and the weeds are getting a bit rampant. Some things are growing really well and we have started to harvest the radishes. Spinach is thriving and the tomato and cucumber plants are getting more established plus we have some lettuce, onions and an odd marrow or two making an appearance. No sign of the carrots, aubergine, green pepper or cauliflower that we planted back in early April.
Anu is keen to grow more local produce here such as ginger and lentils and a large area of land has been dug over and spread with some beautiful earthy manure from the forest. A watering system has been set up as there is now very little rain and won’t be much until the monsoon season starts early July. I had planned to head back to the UK during the rainy season here, apparently it can be a test of nerves as it rains relentlessly for seven weeks or so. I suspect though I will still be here and if so then like everything in life I will just have to embrace it and go with the flow. It will be another experience to share with you at some point.
There are masses of peonies here that Anu’s stepfather planted years ago and which he would cut and sell into hotels as far as Delhi (a six hour drive from here). I am enjoying picking the ones that are so heavy that they are lying on the ground and bringing them into the cottage together with some of the roses that Anu’s mother planted and loved. Anu and I are also drying some of them to infuse in sesame oil and they are currently adorning my windowsill. They look so pretty and smell divine. When you first pick them the leaves are so silky soft and the smell is very much like roses.
I still try to get out into the forest on a daily basis and have seen more wildlife recently the highlight being four large barking deer that came trotting towards me on the ridge on top of one of the hills. I don’t know who was most surprised as they suddenly appeared directly in front of me trotting quite quickly in my direction. At first I thought they were cows as they were a similar size and quite bulky in stature and then realised they weren’t and they were very agile as they split into two groups disappearing off down into the forest either side of me. So wonderful to see them even for just a few moments. On another expedition I saw a large hare tearing towards me closely followed by what I think was a pine marten in hot pursuit. The poor hare had to change direction and I do hope it managed to outrun it’s predator. There are of course lots of birds and many of them stunning in colour. They are also extremely vocal and the dawn chorus which starts at around 5am is very tuneful and a delight to wake up to.
Each morning the first thing I do is to throw back the bedroom windows and deeply breathe in the fresh mountain air, it really is so delicious and refreshing and the view of the forest is magnificent. I then usually have to eject a few rather large spiders and even a glow worm that seem to like living with me!
I’ve loved seeing the forest vegetation changing and thickening, bursting with soft fresh greens and now more colourful flowers emerging. I try to use the time in the forest as a walking meditation staying tuned into the many different sights and sounds and often walking at a gentle slow pace and occasionally stopping and just sitting feeling into its life force. Sometimes I come across other people and just last week as I sat down on a rock to meditate I heard the voices of some local ladies and when I later walked past them saw that they had a goat that I presume they were taking out for a walk to graze. It was such a lovely sight, these three young ladies lying in the forest just chatting and one on a phone and the goat on a rope nibbling the vegetation. I mused at how different to meeting up with friends in Skipton where we might spend time at a local café having a cuppa and cake or lunch.
Talking of food, I have been having some cooking lessons from Sushma and now know how to make Indian Chai tea, jelebis pakoras and parathas, which I really love although I haven’t actually made any of these things myself yet. I don’t really get chance as Anu, Sushma and Berfi are always very kindly bringing food round for me – I really do get spoiled here and I’m so grateful for their kindness.
It was Rakesh’s birthday last week and I had heard that you could make cake without an oven and this was a good opportunity to give it a go. I googled a recipe and sure enough you can make a sponge cake on top of a gas stove and so Sushma, me and the children baked Rakesh a chocolate cake on top of the gas stove in a sort of metal casserole dish. It was pretty good and cooked really well although it was just a bit dry so next time I might try the chalet cake recipe I used to make in France which uses yoghurt and oil. Arohi suggested we decorate the cake plate with peony petals.
We had the cake and chai in the evening to celebrate Rakesh’s birthday and then continued with some snacks accompanied by some beer and village wine. This is the first alcohol I have had since being in Delhi early February so I took it easy!! We had a really fun evening with some dancing, chatting and then a late dinner before I headed back up the hill to my cottage. Everyone has made me feel so welcome here and I love getting to know them better and to learn more about how they live and work.
I’ve made time for reading, listening to talks, doing online events that are of a spiritual nature and have felt a deeper understanding of much of what I have been learning and practicing over the last eight years or so. Some of the people that have influenced this recently include Mooji and Louise Kay whom I spent some time with in Rishikesh, Emma Slade who has been running a regular Sunday afternoon sessions and a 5 week course on fearless compassion, Russell Brand who does regular videos and some great podcasts and Liz Gilbert who never fails to inspire me with creative ideas. I’ve signed up to do some art workshops and painted my first watercolour with a youtube video as guidance and as I mentioned earlier, I am trying to write each day.
I listen to Eckhart Tolle, Tara Brach and I have an interest in Shamanism and am reading a few books on this. I find it hard to describe the impact that all of this activity and learning is having but ultimately it feels uplifting, inspiring and all supporting the embodiment of living life more joyfully, consciously and with greater kindness. My wish is that this inner work will ultimately be of benefit to others and will enable me to share my own personal development and journey with others who also wish to find ways to navigate this life with greater joy, presence and kindness.
If you meditate
to be a better person
you’ll always be busy
trying to be a better person.
If you meditate
because you are in love
with resting in your own
luminous infinite being
you’ll always be in LOVECaverly Morgan
So that’s an hour of writing so I’ll sign off now and upload this little update to my blog tomorrow with some photos – which can be a bit challenging due to a weak network signal.
Stay safe everyone and wishing you a gentle easing out of lockdown whatever that might look like for you in your part of the world.