June is bursting out all over…
“June is bursting out all over,
“All over the meadows and the hills…”
So goes the song from the Broadway musical “Carousel”—I think. While the song refers to spring in the Western hemisphere, when hills and meadows burst out in a riot of colors as flowers and blossoms come out in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes, it also resounds true in the Philippines. Only it is not the flowers and the blossoms that burst out. It is light green blades of grass, tiny buds that unfurl into light green leaves, seeds that send tiny roots into the soil, tiny leaves that poke their heads out of the ground to greet the sun and the sky, and lacy, tender tendrils of tiny vines waving to greet the world.
It is not yet the rainy season, according to Pagasa, but the rains (which do not listen to
Pagasa) have come, and the plants and seeds have felt their soft touch and have awakened to start growing in earnest. It is as if an alarm clock has started ringing and every seed, grass, plant or tree that has heard it has bestirred, thrown off their blankets, and woken up yawning and stretching, poking through the tough shells of their seeds and the now-soft soil, looking out and greeting, “Hello, World.”
In the Philippines, it is May, not June, that is the month of flowers. Hence, we have the “Flores de Mayo” festival where beautiful young women, adorned with flowers, parade through the early evening streets (lighted by candles or electric lights that are powered by batteries or small portable generators), accompanied by musicians. It is different from the “Santacruzan,” which also has beautiful young “sagalas” bedecked in flowers and lights parading through the streets—sometimes accompanied by images of saints borrowed from local churches and families—telling the story of Jesus.
The summer flowers are still not ready to fade away, however. The fire trees, for example, still stubbornly wave their red-orange blossoms. The ground beneath them becomes increasingly redder as more and more red petals flutter down to carpet the earth.
But the “Golden Shower” and other trees and plants are not so stubborn. They have already started shedding their blossoms and flowers, yielding to the inevitable. They are giving way to the next generation.
We have four big fire trees, plus other trees and plants and plenty of grass and weeds in our big yard, and I can track the seasons just by looking at them. The fire trees still fight stubbornly, waving their branches heavy with red blossoms, but you can see that their days are numbered. Their red color is fading and the ground underneath is becoming redder with the petals being shed.
But buds are poking out of the branches of the other trees. The heads of new seedlings are pushing out of the soil. There is also a big acacia tree in front, and all summer it shed its ripe pods bulging with seeds. Now those seeds are sprouting; and on the ground beneath the tree, you can see so many tiny seedlings fighting their way out to seek their places in the sun.
The color of the landscape, too, has changed. From brown, it has turned light green from all the tender, tiny leaves and blades of grass coming out into the world. It is amazing how quick the plants grow and change color.
The other day, the grass was a dull brown of summer. In the evening, there was a heavy downpour. Yesterday morning, I looked out at the lawn and there were light green blades of grass, either poking out of the ground or sprouting from the stems of the brown grass. They’ll grow taller, taking on a darker shade of green as the days come and go and the rains continue.
The weeds are even faster and more eager to grow than the grass. They sprout out of every inch of ground that is not carpeted by grass. Soon, they will grow taller and thicker than the grass and overwhelm it if the gardener does not come soon enough to put them in their places.
I feel sorry for them when the gardener starts mowing them down with his grasscutter. After all, they want nothing more than what all the others want: their own places in the sun. But the gardener, with his grasscutter, denies them that. What gives him the right to snuff out the lives of other creatures like the weeds?
But the lawns of humans have to be well manicured and so the weeds have to be sacrificed and the lawn given to the grass exclusively. In the same manner, what gives humans the right to trim the branches of trees? Is that not like cutting off the arms of other creatures? Are they not depriving birds and insects of their homes?
Last week, the gardener chopped down a big kakawati tree in danger of falling on the house when the typhoons come. Today, buds are sprouting out of the decapitated trunk. I can’t help but feel sorry for the tree. It’s trying so hard to live, just like all the rest of us.
The branches that have been left lying on the ground are also sprouting buds. They also want to live. In a few more days and weeks, those buds will sprout new leaves and grow to become new branches so that the cycle of life can continue.
During one of the typhoons years ago, the two fire trees in front of the house were blown down. There was a loud crack and when I looked out of the window, there were the two trees lying across the street.
After the storm, workers cut off the branches. To their surprise, the trunks began to rise without the help of anybody. The roots pulled them back upright. The workers laughed and scratched their heads and left.
Those decapitated trunks wasted no time in sprouting new buds and shoots and in growing again. Now those two trees are already afire with blossoms. They also want to live like all of God’s creatures.
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