(For my last post in this series about my mother’s garden, which is my way of honoring her this Mothers’ Month of May, I am featuring a most unusual fruit — something that, come to think of it, is like our mothers who help make even the worst of times just a little better. )
Of all the produce in my Ma’s garden, this is probably the most unusual — synsepalum dulcificum, better known as miracle fruit or magic berry. It is so called because of the amazing effect it has on one’s taste buds. Simply put, it makes everything, and I mean everything, taste really sweet.
May this day be filled with hugs, laughter and wonderful surprises.
(Here are more photos of my mother’s garden, along with some choice quotes that I’m sure ring true for everyone.)
(Because May is the month of mothers, all four of this month’s Sunday/Monday posts will feature my Ma’s garden and all the pretty, lovely, beautiful, delicious things that grow there. Today, some flowering plants take center stage.)
I cannot remember a time when my Ma did not keep a garden. Wherever we lived, from the large house and lot that I grew up in to the tiny structure with the nipa thatched-roof that we had to build on borrowed land after we lost almost everything, Ma always managed to cultivate a garden.
As soon as she and Dad acquired the land where they now live, she started planting all sorts of fruit trees and flowering plants on it (even before they made plans to build the house). All that sowing has been paying off in large measures of gorgeousness. Ma chose tropical plant varieties that grow all year round but especially thrive during summer. So from March to June, which is summer in the Philippines, everything in the garden is either abloom or bursting with fruit or both.
(I’ve been wanting to share this story with you. It’s a bit long but I feel it is worth telling.)
In 2004, my Dad suffered a massive stroke. Thankfully, he survived but it left him with the right side of his body paralyzed, thereby impairing his mobility to a huge extent.
That in itself is difficult enough, but I believe the worst part of it for my Dad was that the stroke also severely constrained his ability to communicate. You see, Dad loved words — he read a lot, wrote essays and articles for local newspapers, and had the easiest time speaking in public (he was a politician and a teacher and had a local radio talk show). He also loved to sing.
The stroke put a stop to all that. While Dad’s brain was unaffected (he can read and can recognize classmates from high school), it had become ‘disconnected’ from his ability to speak. As a result, his vocabulary basically became limited to yes, no, and OK. He often got them mixed up, too and would say ‘no’ when he meant ‘yes’. It caused a lot of confusion on our part and much frustration for Dad. He would yell and curse at us because we could not grasp the message he was trying desperately to get across.
If you’ve seen the PetSmart Bobo Commercial from four years ago, you know that the pink stuffed thing beside Sam is a dog toy.
It used to be Bruno’s. Or was really meant for Bruno. I saw the ad a few years back, thought it was so charming and bought the toy for my dog. Unfortunately, in his excitement he stepped on it and the toy let out a loud squeeeeek. Bruno ran as far away from Bobo as he could and never went near it again. I tried giving it to Jigs but got the same reaction. It’s been languishing inside a box for two years.
Last month, I showed the old commercial to Gianna and Sam. The two girls asked if they could have the dog toy, so I got it washed and handed it to Sam this morning. The little girl is so thrilled she carries Bobo everywhere. She loves to brandish it as she walks.
So all day today, Jigs looked like this:
I’m back in the hometown for a work assignment and to visit my family.
On the flight to here I was seated at the very last row of the plane and tried to delude myself that I was on First Class by listening to O Sole Mio and The Godfather theme while looking out at the clouds. (I’m currently on an Al Pacino phase.)
The flight to Legaspi City from Manila was shorter than the ride (by van) to my hometown. I was tired and sleepy by the time I arrived at Chimmy’s house but I immediately perked up at the sight of lunch.
We had sinigang na hipon, pork adobo, my favorite fried fish (usuus/asuhos or whiting) and bihon (rice noodles). All Filipino comfort food. Sarap.
I spent most of the afternoon with the nieces. They asked me repeatedly to take their picture.
“Tita Buds, puede?”
“Tita Buds, ‘yung flowers naman.”
The flowers are pretty and the garden is on an all-out bloom this time of the year. Maybe, I should write something about my mother’s garden and everything that comes out of it. Meanwhile I need my sleep. The humidity — whooo! — is sapping my strength.