Kashmir Valley Seasons
lush vegetation and wide variety of fruits presents a different
face for every season. The almond trees blossom in March when
the thaw begins, but it's the chinars, which leaf in April that
really herald spring. Strawberries and cherries are on sale
in May, followed by apricots in June and apples in July.
sound of running water dominates the vale in May and June as
the snow melts rushes down from the high snows and is channelled
on the terraces to irrigate the rice, barley and wheat crops.
During these months, group of colourfully dressed women sing
as they stoop to plant the rice shoots in paddies across the
vale. The chinar trees are in full leaf, while on the mountain
slopes the villagers are cutting firs and cedar for building
houses or repairing those damaged by the winter snow. The Gujars
begin moving their herds of sheep and goats to the high pastures
and ranunculus, anemone and impatient begin to flower in the
meadows and along the streams.
The early autumn brings pears, pomegranates and walnuts. Waterbirds
and swallows, heading south for winter, pause in Kashmir in
great numbers. Finally the leaves fall and by November or December
the first snow can be expected around the valley. In January
housboat roofs must be shovelled clean to prevent them being
pressed into the lake by the weight of snow.
In winter the Kashmir Valley can be a bitterly cold place and
Dal Lake freezes over on occasion. Kashmir becomes a quieter,
more sedate place than during the hectic days of summer. Houseboat
owners bring out their pot Belly stoves and hang carpets at
the doorways to keep in the warmth, and the valley, now stilled
by a thick layer of snow, rests.
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