By Haziq Qayoom Lone
During summers, when it is about to rain, the clouds are cold and full of ice crystals. The air below the clouds is relatively warm. This warm air is less dense than the colder air, so it tends to rise up and rub with the ice crystals in the clouds generating friction. The friction generated results in a negatively charged cloud bottom and a positively charged ground. This generates enough difference in charges to create an arc of bolts in the sky that we call as lightening.
In winter, since there is a negligible difference in temperature between the ground and the clouds, no thunderstorms occur.
By now you must be wondering why I am writing all this. I only write this because I feel invincibly winsome, especially around the subject of thunder storms. To me, winter is the season of hibernation. Spring, on the other hand, is the season of rejuvenation.
Most Kashmiris believe that the blue and orange lights that flash in the sky in spring signal the end of hibernation. Thunderstorms wake up bears from their long winter sleep and delicious edible mushrooms sprout from the ground. Kashmiris are famous for their love of mushrooms. We prepare a huge variety of delicacies from them. Gucci/Kani’ghitch (Botanical name: Morchella esculenta) is a very eminent and expensive variety of mushrooms. It grows on decaying wood stems and is very hard to find. There are many ancient myths surrounding how these mushrooms can be found. Some people believe that only children can find them while others believe it is mostly dark skinned, pure hearted people who can find them. Yet others believe that colouring ones eyes with kohl will help them seek these rare delicacies. One kilogram of this variety sells for about 1400-1500 rupees. This mushroom variety isnt only popular for its taste but also has a huge demand in the pharmaceutical industry. It can be used as a cure for many dreadful tumours besides having immune regulatory properties. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) believe edible mushrooms to bea great protein supplement for protein deficient populations of developing and underdeveloped countries.
Talking about the delicacies prepared from this extremely rare variety, Thunthoo Yakhni (a dish prepared with curd), Thunthoo Kheer (prepared with milk) and Thunthoo Pulaw (a rice based preparation) are quite famous. Anyone who tastes any one of these dishes will forever have the taste marked on his or her tongue.
Spring is almost at our door step. The earth will soon be smelling fresh and ready to sprout new flowers and grass. The trees will once again be green, flowers will be in full bloom. Streams which were dry in winter will be once again gurgling with water. Everywhere we look, signs of life will be visible. Once again, lightening will flash in the sky and excited little kids will pick up their baskets and run along hills looking for the treasures of mother earth. Once again we will get to relish the sweet earthy flavour of mushrooms.
So it is time to rejoice and make merry and welcome this joyful season with open arms.
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