Year 2 of coronavirus quarantine: Retreat

98 points

IT is really time to go on retreat from the foibles around us. Conspiracy theories abound and some sound real enough, with evidence enough to believe that some among us are trying to get the better part of what should belong to all. Enough said. Then there are the inane proto events that pop up to shock, anger, confuse. Example, the Department of Health/Civil Service Commission would-be memo excluding anyone — owner, boss, participant, employee, laborer (who knows, maybe even bystander) — from qualifying for vaccination against Covid-19 because they have something to do with tobacco or formula milk. How punitive and stupid. Indeed, there is such a milk law that forbids anyone connected with formula milk from being involved with the DoH or any of its outside activities, including fund-raising, seminars, information campaigns. What does that accomplish? Only to find ways around it. In this time of a rampaging pandemic, to find an excuse to exclude some of those who need to be vaccinated sounds like an idea from Dante’s Inferno. People who want formula milk will get it anyway for whatever reason approved or disapproved by the DoH. Meanwhile, what they can share through the other services of these excluded elements like information, sharing new developments in science and medicine, attaining goodwill and cooperation are rejected because of this law. Which in the same spirit is followed by the mindless acceptance of a grant — to the Philippine Competition Commission or the Department of Trade and Industry, I’m not quite sure. In short, a government agency that tries to discourage the use of tobacco or anything related, which expands into campaigning against vaping, which is the exit from tobacco for addicts of tobacco. In other words, show them the money or the vaccination and they will jump into punitive exclusion of whatever they think the grant or thoughtless policy demands. It seems these government agencies’ creative ideas only run along punitive, exclusionary, even illogical lines. Shades of authoritarianism!

With all of that out there, retreat to yourself and to Nature, to reading and electronic interacting with persons you like, preferably having nothing to do with government in whatever form.

Summer has arrived

This morning as I sat in the garden, a crow — big, black and sleek, its feathers a burnished ebony — came by and alighted about 2 meters from me (social distancing accomplished). I live next to the Wack Wack Golf course, which was named thus for the crows that were in their native terrain there long before golf came to this city. Being a minority now compared to golfers in the area, they must command respect and tolerance. I looked at it and it looked at me, and then it flew up the nearest tree. He was not exclusive, and he did not try to keep me out of his territory. And neither did I.

I must also note that a few days ago, again while sitting by the garden, I heard this vociferous bird voices cum whistles making such a racket that I had to find out who they were though I had a suspicion. Behold, of course two orioles were chattering and swooping around the kalachuchi tree, then the santol, then the mango and then over the roof to the other side. And back. With their bright yellow color with a band of black, orioles are a noisy lot, but their noise consists in mostly of pleasant long whistles that sound like a nearby, or sometimes faraway, train. It carries with it a note of nostalgia, and one thinks, where are the others, not necessarily orioles or birds, maybe people? What are they doing, who is near, who is far? Life is passing and you hear it when the orioles whistle.

Summer has definitely arrived, and we’ve had the first fruits — small but delicious chicos (we left some on the trees for the birds), custard apple that must be harvested when it wants to or it drops with the explosion of small bombs, mangoes that we harvested last weekend. The macopa tree seems to be holding back this year, and the pili tree has put forth some fruit but not enough to take on the challenge of climbing up so high to harvest them. Its grace is its stately height with outlying green branches and tiny leaves that can take on any typhoon without being destroyed.

One tree that always teases us is this cherry-like one (according to Plant App, it is a black cherry, but we have never seen its fruits) that is lush with leaves all year, then sheds them suddenly to turn absolutely dry and stick-like, and after this unattractive pause, bursts out with tiny pink mini-flowers that when blooming all together, make a statement of spring or summer or maybe life. This year it has decided to just put out only a few blooms, shed only 75 percent of its leaves and just be blah. No statement, no color, no noticeable effort. It sure sounds like the governance we are getting around here.

But leave it at that, I expect the Palawan cherry to bloom soon with its pink and white cascades, the kamuning front and back are already putting out their white flowers with their heady fragrance, and the dama de noche will not be far behind. And the one special lift has been to see the kalachuchi that has rare yellow flowers come to bloom.

On this note, with some spiritual readings, with fervent prayers as becomes Holy Week and with goodwill, in fact with love to all, including our disappointing leaders, let us face the future with hope and courage after retreating into this time of reflection.

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