A Painter's Year in the Forests of Bhutan by A. K. Hellum

By A. K. Hellum

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J- Buddleja coluilei Hook. f. &. Thorns. 44 Rinchen's mother came one spring day with her own father and with the man she had been living with since Rinchen's father died. When the day for going to the hospital came—for she had agreed to see the doctor—she was nowhere to be found. She had gone visiting friends. We hunted high and low, asking everywhere if anyone had seen her, with her father and her companion. Finally, she emerged from a small hill settlement where Rinchen had gone to hunt for her.

They looked cold in their tattered clothes and rubber footwear, and their caps were pulled down over their ears. But when I smiled at them they smiled back and their gleaming white teeth fairly shone. ^ Rhododendron kesangiae Long &. Rush. Their poverty always touched me. These workers were aliens, speaking only Nepali and Hindi, and I spoke neither language. They were very shy people who did not want their pictures taken, nor did they really accept my presence on this, "their" piece of road. I had seen them earlier when driving up to the pass as they sat by their small fires, shielded by umbrellas against the penetrating cold.

Local people collect them and eat them so enthusiastically that it is hard to find an untouched bush anywhere. In winter the plant is bare of leaves, and the stems have a whitish bloom on them so they can be identified everywhere you go. The plant is very common. But in summer, when the stems grow in girth, the white bloom is much less visible and the other greenery around hides the plant, which tends to scramble over other vegetation. The name biflorus means that the flowers always occur in pairs.

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