A few minutes

Doesn’t everyone need exactly what they don’t have? During normal times I would be so wrapped up in busy-work all day that I had no time to think outside the box. In a life crammed with not-so-necessary meetings, unending traffic, pointless face-to-faces, a holiday was a time to unwind. You wanted the most picturesque. Now, in a time of travel restrictions, any get away is good enough. We are lucky to have spectacular destinations a short drive away. These are destinations that we neglected in the past. Now the idea of wading through seasonal streams in beds of volcanic basalt is wonderful. Everything outside your eyeballs is a source of inspiration. As your body exerts itself, your mind becomes alert. You see new things.

We came to a point where the stream ran below a low bridge. We were forced to cross the road. We weren’t the only ones. A land crab scuttled across the blacktop. I’d never seen a land crab walk before, and I’d expected the same ten-footed sideways gait as sea crabs. This one walked sideways on two feet! Bipedal land crabs should be easy to identify. Unfortunately I have no field manual. So I’ll leave it as belonging to the family Gecarcinidae and move on. I have to move faster than The Family when I’m taking photos, because she gets a little testy sometimes about my frequent photo stops.

Clambering over stones at the edge of the road I saw a mass of pulsating red. A closer look showed me the original inhabitants of India. These were centipedes (class Chilopoda). They have one pair of legs in each segment of the body. This distinguishes them from millipedes, which have two pairs of legs per segment. It seems that their ancestors lived in the Indian landmass 80 to 100 million years ago. The oldest signs of humans here are no older than 1.5 million years ago. I gave these unfriendly ancient natives of India a wide berth, and moved on.

The flooding water had moved loose stones on to the road. These scattered stones now stood in the way of the water still flowing over the road. I looked at the criss-cross of braided flow that resulted. Quite an interesting pattern. Worth a shot, isn’t it?

As we climbed proceeded along the stream on the other side of the road, more inspiration waited to strike. My strides disturbed a leap of grasshoppers (infraorder Acrididae). They jumped from the low grass on to stones. Most of them jumped away immediately into grass again. A few stragglers gave me an opportunity to take photos. Stubby little bodies, light green in colour. Huge hind legs, which could unfold at the knee to allow them to jump many times their body lengths. I saw this species again a couple of times. I should spend some time trying to identify them.

Just ahead, a small caterpillar on a rock in the middle of the stream posed a mystery. What is a caterpillar doing on a bare rock in the middle of flowing water? A mystery worthy of Hercule Poirot, I believe. There were rice fields ahead. This stream led there. Perhaps a clue to the origin of the caterpillar? My little grey cells tickled. I walked on.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

21 comments

  1. Oh my I.J., while I agree wholeheartedly with you premise re exploring nearby places previously unknown, it would not be my place of choice if I were to find such creatures around me! Of course, that gives me pause as I wonder when and how we decided that creatures such as your centipedes and caterpillar were to be rather reviled rather than admired by most of us. Hmmm….interesting thought for a Monday morning!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The caterpillar will grow into a butterfly eventually. And though the centipede will not change, it is a fierce hunter and will keep pest populations in control. So maybe one could concentrate on colour and form and admire them for that.

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  2. You have a great eye for the little things that others might ignore, like the stones in the water and the creepy-crawlies 🙂 I love your centipede photo – you’ve managed ot make them look rather beautiful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating, IJ. Your powers of observation are wonderful! I’ve never seen a centipede before….and agree with you–I’d definitely give it plenty of space! Wonderful post filled with great moments of inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a nice post with your words leading us into each photo – I really like the one with the rocks in the road and the remaining water trickles down over then – very abstract and moody

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful landscape, if a bit too wet, but that was the point of the walk anyway. And so many centipedes together, horror! I find the occasional one around the house more engaging than I want.
    That caterpillar might have floated on a leaf and landed on the rock maybe 🙂 ?

    Liked by 1 person

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