Sunday, July 23, 2006
A morning with D
I remember holding Dustin's arms as we went down the steep rocky steps leading to the carp pond and the Balinese hut on stilts in the middle of the water. Dustin at seven didn’t seem strong enough to negotiate the long and uneven steps of the garden at the back of the house.
Always enthusiastic, he was excited and clung to me with both hands as we descended along the flower-lined narrow winding path. Laughing all the while, he scattered a crowd of feasting butterflies as we passed them. They were quickly back alit on their colorful floral banquet seemingly unresentful of a little child’s intrusion.
Earlier I promised to show him how to create fire with a magnifying glass. It was a cloudy morning and I couldn’t demonstrate building a fire without sunlight. We sat at the edge of the hut and fed the carps with bread leftovers from breakfast. It was a pleasure to watch the carps glide in schools coming out from under the hut as they jostled each other in frenzied fighting for a bite of the bread scraps. There were several big ones, three of which were Kois. The others, mid sized and tiny ones, were ordinary carps which one can buy from a pet shop for a few pesos each.
We gave names to the big and identifiable carps. The most resplendent of them all was a big Koi whose golden scales were vividly outlined on its back side. We named him Prince because of this regal bearing and the brilliant and well defined scales draped on his back looked like a noble’s cape. The two other Kois were Goldie and Long John Silver. Then there was Moby Junior (so named because he looked like the big carp who died when he swam himself into a plastic bag looking for tasty morsels…sometimes they have humanlike traits), Paleface, a fat holdout from the first batch of carps, Blondie and Big Joe Black which I need not describe because their names are descriptive enough of their appearances. There was a small one whom Distin named Scarface because of a distinctive orange slash below the eyes on both sides.
I told Dustin to watch out for the two janitor fish that I introduced to the pond about a year ago. A few days ago I caught glimpse of one of them. It was about the length of Prince but had a wider girth. It grew fast in the pond because there were a lot of pond trash and detritus, which was a lot food for just the two of them.
Janitor fish are bottom dwellers and you seldom see them swimming around. Even in aquariums they tend to attach themselves to the glass wall and move only when prodded by a stick. Although I have only seen one of them from the time I threw them in the pond I gave names to both of them. One was named Johnny and the other Thor. Dustin found the names amusing.
A fluttering dragonfly that alighted on the reeds distracted Dustin’s attention. Soon other dragonflies joined in. There was a big green dragonfly, and then a pair of maroon colored ones hovered on the side of the waterfalls.
The sun came peering out of a momentary opening in the sky. I knew that we would have the sun rays only briefly so I told Dustin to gather up dry leaves, preferably thin dried bamboo leaves because they tend to ignite better than the thick leaves of the other plants. With a clump of dried bamboo leaves by his side I told him to focus the magnifying glass by positioning it where it will give the brightest light on the dry leaves. He was fascinated by the smoke that came out of the blackened portion of a dry leaf as it spread to other leaves in the clump. “Wow, that’s cool! I wish David was here. He would be happy to see this”. David is his cousin who is about his age and with whom he shared all the things that seven year olds have…toys, experiences, stories as well as secrets.
The sun hid itself again behind the thick clouds. We lost the sunshine but we already had a fire going. It burned for a while… searing a bond between a child and his grandfather. “Let’s do this again this afternoon, Lolo”. I said yes and promised to try another way of building a fire using wooden sticks.