The Commune: Root Systems for the New Year

Dear Friends,

As we made turn another turn around the sun, I found myself sitting with the question: what do I want to carry into the New Year?

Every year, I find myself feeling the tug of having to set some sort of resolution. Big, small, whether I choose to disclose it or not, there is an implicit pressure that finds its way to my consciousness through social media feeds and conversations around ‘what change will the new year bring’. This time around, I wanted to make room for all that the year past had brought with it and to turn my attention there.

As it happened, I found myself in the company of Meir Shalev’s book, A Wild Garden, which he describes as “neither neatly organized nor well kept”. In a chapter titled Splendid Bindweed, he writes of how summer guests are disappointed by the dryness of his garden—a stark contrast to the neighbours well manicured and sprinkler-fed, stylised ones. “It is easy to prosper and produce fruit in season when you are planted on the banks of a stream and the spring sun caresses your chlorophyll, but spring passes, clouds disperse, the sun blazes and scorches. Water evaporates, the ground cracks and signs of impending death are discernible on most plants […] It is actually now that everything around withers, the virgin’s bower, the lily, the squill, and the splendid bindweed.” He describes the secret power of the bindweed that is resplendent with flowers in this season. “Tremendous roots are concealed under the bindweed’s delicate-looking canopy, whose structure and breadth allow for the storage of water and nutrients, enabling it to reach deep, moisture-laden layers even in the summer,” he writes.

I find myself drawn to stories that re-remember the year past—the many everyday things that brought gratitude, like the seeds of the black-eyed susan vine from my friend that I planted last year. Over the course of six months, it has transformed the black window grill that marks Mumbai-homes, tendrils creeping upwards in different directions as it searches for the sun. I turned to a series by Scroll, ‘Things that made us smile’ by their staffers that similarly speak to a bag of ghungroos that sparked a return to dancing for one, a terrace garden for another and animated movies for a third person.

In addition to the invitation to shed that what no longer serves that this time-of-year brings, I hope you will also carry with you what nurtures and nourishes into the New Year. We’d love to hear what that is so do write in to us.

In the meanwhile, we hope the year is kind and that you have access to a deep root system to anchor you when difficult seasons come around.

(Team TCC)

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