There is nothing like waking up in the morning with the sound of nature telling you, “Hey, the Higher Power loves you and is giving you a gift to live another day.” Thank you, Big U.

Today, I woke up with the sound of a tropical rainstorm. Huge drops of water may be heard on our tin roof. The sound of the drops is a simple pleasure that has enriched my creative life at any age, at any place I woke up to with a dream in my heart. I cannot compare it to any other sound. It is so special in its own.

I looked out beyond the fence that separates our home from the forest. I observed the two narra trees taking a beating from the downpours, and so does the African tulip tree that our friend and neighbor Helna Grant gave for Wiel’s 56th birthday.

I have faith that the other trees inside the garden will remain firm: There’s the now 3-meter Ylang-ylang, the White Tabebuias, Yellow Oleanders, Gmelinas, 2 Malunggay trees that have been supplying us with a healthy daily dose of Vitamin C, and the Neem.

Our friend Julie C. Sionzon recently introduced us to the health benefits of the Neem. Take 4-6 leaves as tea, two separate cups daily for 5 straight days, with a month’s break each time and you’ll miraculously decrease your sugar levels. Ideal for diabetics.

Thankfully, we are not, so we are sticking by the regimen of drinking water kefir daily. Thanks to the Svanes- Nicolai and Caroline, who said they got their bacteria from Dunia Valenzuela Delos Reyes. An amazing cycle of pay-it-forward!

Now my focus returned to the narra trees. They were given to us by my son Anjelo one summer. It must have been 5 years ago, I think. He took the then 2-feet tree with him on a bus ride from Ilocos, and on another bus ride to Subic. We honor his love by planting them in an area where family and friends who visit #cafebytheforest would marvel on its magnificence one day. Yellow flowers have started to bloom!

I also see a few birds perched on a maybe century old tree, inside the forest, across our sunset garden. They were shaking water off their wet wings. I forgot the name of the tree although Forester Marlea P. Muñez already told me what it is called. It doesn’t matter. It’s always a beauty to behold.

During our wedding reception at the sunset garden, lights and sounds man Andy Neal flashed a stationary spotlight on the tree that allowed us to appreciate its beauty even though it was standing in darkness. We relive that beautiful evening everyday of our lives.

I smelled coffee brewing in the kitchen. Wiel is brewing love again!

We sipped our foamy cappuccino quietly, with not much fanfare. More than 7 years together and we’ve been accustomed to our couple’s rhythm. It is a rhythm that allows space and freedom to continue to evolve together and separately- when one’s wisdom about life and love and the experiences collected along the way are heavier than one’s baggage.

Together and yet separate? In my youth, that paradox was unheard of, especially when you have to live it, actually. ‘Clingy’ was a norm we learned from our parents. In this age, the Millennials have embarked on their lives in self-care that made parenting for us somehow easier. (“Not quite,” I heard the Titas in my ears.)

On to my “second wind” in life, I find this “together in separateness” amazing. Like a work of art that has been hanging on your wall for a long time and then finally, as you develop taste for appreciation, you noticed that “Oh, what a beautiful painting.” This is a del Rosario. That is a van der Heijde. That- a Salao, this- an Imson, and that- a Robles. What-have-yous. You went through a process: now you are beginning to understand the truth in them, the individual hues that make the total picture meaningful.

(Back to earth: Hopefully we can save enough to acquire a de Wolff, a Min, a Borlongan, a Vergel, and a Steenbergen. It will happen, one-by-one, in due time. BFF Kaye Nuguid, S-O-S!)

At this point in my reverie, my inherited from Wiel Dutch-Ilocano bells went ding-dong!, bringing me back to the sound of the sweet rain. Oh, it keeps on whipping at everything out there!

As incessant rains can be harsh for a lot of people living in the lowlands- especially those without shelter, it can also be unkind to the animals and birds whose presence in our daily lives brings joy and tranquility. I acknowledge that it is both scary and beautiful. As life is. As love is.

Today, I am honoring the gift of life, of love, and the beauty of the rains. May we just have enough drops for the trees to be nourished, for the flowers to bloom, for the communities to remain safe in their homes, for the living creatures in the forest to come out of their habitat to look for food.

May the rains fulfill its life-giving role.


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