when the water in rice fields recedes into small ponds and pockets of pools. These are waterholes like oases in the desert. There is no place the trapped fish can go. With a bucket or can to empty the remaining water we then picked up the these trapped creatures - catfish (hito) snakehead (dalag) gurami, martiniko, tilapia, crayfish (ulang), shrimps, bagsang, kuhol and suso. And we would take them home to the delight of our old folks. Meantime we had our kites ready on the field among harvesters and the haystacks.
Paintings and Story by Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Family picnic by a running stream
When I was a child I anticipated most of all the arrival of the first strong rain of May. It comes as a downpour, and we boys would scoop the falling rain and rub our navel to prevent "kabag," so says our old folks. We would rush out to the road and field shouting for joy in the deafening sound of rain, wearing the barest - or none at all. Actually the thunderstorm is brief and we run back home to take anything hot - soup, rice coffee or chocolate.
Acid rain was unheard of then. There was no need to take a shower. Old folks would tell us while rubbing our body dry, that the first rain tempers the body and makes us grow faster.
The next best thing we kids on the farm monitor is the tail end of the habagat season when the water in rice fields recedes into small ponds and pockets of pools. These are waterholes like oases in the desert. There is no place the trapped fish can go. With a bucket or can to empty the remaining water we then picked up the these trapped creatures - catfish (hito) snakehead (dalag) gurami, martiniko, tilapia, crayfish (ulang), shrimps, bagsang, kuhol and suso. And we would take them home to the delight of our old folks.
By October the Amihan season starts. It's the cold Siberian wind that blows in all the way from the north sweeping the ripening rice field. How willing we kids were in lending a hand to the rice harvesters. But really we had another agenda - kite flying! We would whistle while we work, and our old folks knew we were calling for the wind to come. All of a sudden we would abandon work. There were no such thing as unfair labor practices and child labor laws then. Things would come and go so naturally, a frown turns to smile. Because the harvesters were once kite-flying boys.
Summer is when the spring is at its clearest, gently flowing down the river to the estuary where fish from the sea and river meet. Fishing is the name of the game here - the biggest, the most catch, the rarest kind. Along Bantaoay river we caught mullet (banak or purong Ilk), and sidingan (single spotted fish) and the strong baraongan. Summer and fiesta are inseparable. Our gang of kids in the neighborhood woulkd "invade" town after town. We participated in slingshot target, palo sebo (climbing greased pole), tug-of-war, break the pot, sack race, sipa, breaking the egg, and a host of indigenous games. It was summer Olympics of sort, rural style.
When you are a child time flies, and before you know it summer is over. Our old folk would then prepare us for the next schoolyear. They often wonder how come we had outgrown our clothes and shoes in so short a time. And where have all the pen and paper and books gone?
Catching fish on the terraces
One time I came across an article, What is the Happiest Season of Life? I treasure this article because it talks beyond the level experience. It is philosophy - philosophy of man - a subject I took up in the graduate school under Dr Florentino H Hornedo, a well known social scientist and writer. Here is an excerpt.
A wise old man, who had lived buoyantly through four score years, was asked, “Which is the happiest season of life?” He replied thoughtfully.
“When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms. I think, how beautiful is Spring!
And when the summer comes, and covers the trees and bushes with heavy foliage, and singing birds mingle with branches, I think, how beautiful is Summer!
When autumn loads them with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost, I think, how beautiful is Autumn!
And when it is sore winter, and there is neither foliage nor fruit, then when I look up through the leafless branches and see, as I can see in no other season, the shining stars of heaven, I think, how beautiful is the Winter of life!
Now that I am old I look back at those childhood years. Those were beautiful, nostalgic years. They are still part of me. I make kite for my youngest son, fish with my eldest, play music with Anna, cook with Cecille and the whole family. And I write about the old folks that taught me all these.
And when the leaves of the talisay tree turn to yellow, then to orange and purple, I know the Amihan has arrived. The Siberian wind blows, and one by one the leaves fall, revealing one or two kites flying in the sky. How beautiful are the seasons coming one after the other making a wholesome Life Cycle.
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