I was waiting for my experiment to cook (in techie lingo: incubation time) when it occurred to me to take pictures of random stuff in the lab. Here are some of the photos I took.
Miniature squash from Rota Spring Farm in Sterling, MA
I live close to a bird sanctuary. Every morning, especially during spring time, I have a great view through the kitchen window of a variety of birds feeding on bird seeds that our landlady has strategically placed all over her backyard. It’s always a sight to behold, especially when the red and blue birds come. (I should look up what these birds are…). I always thought of bringing out the camera and taking photos of them, but on weekday mornings, I’m always on a rush and keep forgetting about it. This morning, while having a mid-day snack and looking out the kitchen window, I saw the gang again and remembered to take out the camera! It was a challenge shooting them because they were always moving around. I had to keep still, be quiet and wait patiently so that they won’t fly away. This was hard to do – it was quite chilly, and because I was too excited to take photos, I went out without a jacket and did not bother to put on my shoes. My zoom lens wasn’t long enough to photograph them in great detail, but when I zoomed in on the images in the computer, they weren’t bad at all! Here’s my favorite photo of the bunch I took today.
Edited to add: The “blue” birds are blue jays and the red one is a male cardinal.
I’ve never gone trick-treating. In my younger days in the Philippines, Halloween is a foreign concept (although this is not true anymore with this generation’s kids). It is not a day to don a costume and become a monster or princess or Obi-Wan. It is not a day to get free candy from one house to another. Halloween is spent preparing for the Day of the Dead.
October 31st is a day when people travel back to their homes to visit the graves of their loved ones. Come November 1st, cemeteries all over the country are filled up with people remembering the ones who passed away. November 1 also happens to be the Feast of All Saints in the Roman Catholic calendar and is a legal non-working holiday in the country.
Even this commonplace tradition in the Philippines is something I have not experienced fully. We lived in Cebu where we were the only ones in both sides of my parents’ families who lived there. There were no graves or tombstone of dead relatives to visit. There was this one time though that we went with my godmother and her family to visit the grave of my godfather. I think I was only 8 or 9 then. What I thought would be a somber and reflective afternoon turned out to be one that is merry and festive! My godmother prepared several dishes, a particular one set aside for my dead godfather (a remnant of Chinese tradition where people offer food for their beloved dead). There were picnic tables and chairs for people to relax, eat and chit-chat. It was a mini-reunion of sorts since old friends and family also came by to visit and to pay respect. We only stayed for a while, but for most families who visit their beloved departed on November 1st, it is a whole day affair filled with remembering the dead and celebrating with those who are still alive.
November 1st is also a different day for our family, especially when my brother was born. He was born on November 1st. My other sister’s birthday is also in November (Nov. 3 to be exact) and since then November 1st has a become a day of celebration – a celebration of life!
Come to think of it, if one believes in the after life, the day of the dead is in essence a celebration of life! In the Catholic faith, we believe that we are born into eternal life when our physical bodies expire. In this respect, it makes sense that Filipinos pay their respect to their departed ones by lighting candles, bringing flowers and offering prayers AND cooking up a festive atmosphere – with food, music and joyful conversations. I think this trumps getting free candy and putting on a scary costume.
This fence separates the Trappist monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey from the rest of the world. I have always wondered about the going-abouts of a monastic life, and in my younger years have even considered entering the religious life. God has steered me in a different course though, and after some contemplation and reflection during my college years, I have come to accept my vocation, which is to be in the middle of the world and making my mark there. Looking back and knowing who I am today, I think that I am were I am supposed to be – on the other side of the fence.
The one thing I have always loved about living in Massachusetts is autumn. Growing up in a tropical country, I have always wanted to experience the fall foliage myself. Good thing the fates brought me to New England. There is something romantic and melancholic about the cool autumn breeze and the reds, yellows, oranges and golds that inundate the landscape. There is this bittersweet emotion that I feel whenever fall comes, and it is a good and warm feeling.
I sometimes wish I could freeze this season and be autumn all year long. Maybe in my dreams.