But monsoons are a great time to step out – to watch things grow, to observe transformation, to see tiny creatures crawl. The trees are alive, and everything around so lush. Barring the heavy intense kinds, rains can bring a sense of calm - a time to consolidate, so to say.
What it’s also a great time for, is to collect the season’s tree-things! Have you noticed how the flowers, leaves, seeds and pods make a beautiful mess after a spell of rain? The sheer variety and raw beauty makes seeds and pods wonderful collectibles. There’s also some delightful drama in the way pods unravel their residents. Some with mild-mannered affectations while the others with decided ferocity. Pods have their own persona, and it’s almost as if their intent is not just about carrying the next generation. It’s also to perpetuate and keep intact the onlooker’s sense of wonder.
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PL : Via Utopia Images Online
Seeds and pods have captured our imagination for generations. The ancestors incorporated them in play and pass time. The earliest board games got the momentum and character from these natural baubles. And in some cases, they reflect the culture and significance of life in the times. Aluguli mane which is played with small seeds, depicts the act of sowing and reaping – the way of life in agrarian communities.
This monsoon, make it an activity for the family. Give plastic play pieces a miss and try seeds and pods instead:
- Look for hard, non-squishy seeds of all sizes. Gulmohar and Ashoka seeds are a good start
- Keep them dry and store in a clean, well-aired place
- Use seeds as pawns or game counters for your favourite board game
- The bright red manjadi seeds and red-black gulganji seeds make for a good alternative (to tamarind seeds), for a game of Aluguzhi mane or Hex
- Eucalyptus seed pods make for tiny and adorable buguris (spinners). Hold them from their thinner end and spin away!
- Helicopter or air spinning duties can be duly handed over to Mahogany seed pods
- The open pods of Jacaranda and bottle tree make for lovely board game counters
- The seed pod of the African Tulip tree (Neerukai mara) looks wonderfully similar to a toy boat, when open. Use them as natural shovels for sand play or as decorative boats (they will close up when in contact with water)
- Get all the twigs you can find to make stick creatures. You could make similar looking sets of 4, and use for games like Chowkabara and Pagade
- Bhadraksha or nicker nut seeds can be a replacement for marbles
- Get a mix of seeds of different size, shapes and textures to make your own seed sorter kit for younger children