Robyn’s-eye view of Kashmiri greens at start of autumn

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, October 6, 2016

Cochrane cyclist Robyn MacKay witnessed emerald-like explosion of greens during mid-September journey through Kashmir four years ago.
Photo by Robyn MacKay

Commenting on last week’s column on autumn in our part of Alberta, our globe-cycling Cochrane coffee companion Robyn MacKay wrote:

“Every day I wake up and feel like I've walked through the wardrobe door in the Chronicles of Narnia, because the scenery takes your breath away. Fall is my favourite season.”

So naturally, I wrote back, “Robyn, in your travels through India have you experienced anything like our autumn?” Her answer blew me away.

But before I reveal her stunning response, here are a couple of other comments I received:

Cremona reader Kathie Reid wrote: “It’s like God is giving us one last visual gift before the monotony of winter sets in. And then He gives us beauty in winter, too! Splendid photos! I can feel your joy and awe through them.”

Janna Vaisman, of Calgary, agrees, adding: “The changing seasons in nature are like the seasons in our lives, reflective and inevitable – a season of longing winding down to a season of prayerful reflection.”

And about Robyn MacKay’s response?

Our readers will not be surprised that Robyn has carried forward her artistic awareness of autumn colours in Alberta to her cycling experiences through India in recent years.

It’s all about the “art of seeing,” she says. “What I ‘see’ in the fall colours of Alberta is the joyful anticipation of change. Season changes bring me closer to the earth and life itself.”

She experienced a similar wonder four autumns ago while cycling through Kashmir in the disputed area between India and Pakistan, she says.

“I arrived as the tail end of monsoon was whipping the skies to witness an explosion of shades of green my eyes had never seen. The intensity of the colours bedazzled my senses.  To see the landscape of Kashmir shimmer like an expertly cut emerald made my heart smile as I do when fall embraces home.

“Every day I shared the blessings of life, love, friendship and family with the Kashmiris as they marvelled at the change of the greenery, just as we do with our fall colours at home. In Asia rain is life. It is warm nectar that falls from the skies. I joined in as people raised their faces upwards, closed their eyes and rejoiced in the bounties of monsoon. They took me into their homes, let me pluck fresh pomegranates and apricots from their trees, and told me this is where Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. I believed them.”

To illustrate the beauty of the Kashmiri-green colour palette she encountered on a mid-September day just after crossing over the Banihal Pass between Srinagar and Jammu, she is sharing with us a photo she took, an expertly cut “emerald” in its own right. Thanks, Robyn.


© 2016 Warren Harbeck

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