Sitting in the porch, I and my grandmother enjoy the afternoon wind coming from the east. This is one of my favourite times of the day, right about when the sun is not almost but close to setting, the wind is flowing coolly and the sky is at it’s most beautiful shade of blue.
My house is in the city, but around me are dozens of trees and fields of flowers and grass. Earlier in my childhood, somehow I asked my grandmother why our house was placed in such a quiet, peaceful and verdant lot. I never thought that she will answer me with a history lesson.
She tells me that my great grandfather, her father, used to own the land. Not only this land, she boasts, but all of the land my eyes can see. Apparently, this whole part of the city was once a crop field, and my mother used to play around the greenery and rice fields.
After years of reaping and sowing, the land was sold to a wealthy man who made it a residential village, but a portion of it was left to my great grandfather and was divided among his children, including my grandmother.
On the land my grandmother owns, my mother and father built a house for us. As early as I can remember, I found some photographs of me playing inside the house that was not yet fully built, with the walls still a stack of white bricks and the roof is still on the ground.
Growing up, I felt lucky but jealous, ecstatic but sad, as the forest has its pros as well as cons.
Having your home isolated in the middle of a terrain of grass and trees, there is absence of any proximity to a road or street. I grew up not craving for fast food delivery, since our home is very hard to find. Another thing is, in almost every year, we miss a parade in the streets.
But above all, the most cringe-worthy about having to live in the middle of a forest is the wild animals that crawl, jump and hiss in the night, such as snakes and frogs. The frogs are at their loudest during a rainy season, roaring a sound like when a car accelerates. The snakes are everywhere, but I bet right now, they’re gone. We’ve already killed a lot back in the day.
Growing up inside a forest is quite something that not all people have. My childhood was basically about trees and skies and sunsets. I guess growing up inside a very peaceful environment taught me how to be calm. There’s something about the forest that makes you feel calm all the time. I feel calm and at peace every afternoon when the sky is light blue and the wind is flowing smoothly, enough to fan you so that you don’t feel warm but you don’t feel cold.
I think another thing about the forest is that it gives you inspiration to think and appreciate what you have. I have certainly been writing about the woods lately, and it’s all I can think of ever since I was in preschool, when they make you write an essay about the things you love.
Everyday, when I walk to the gate that leads to the streets, I am engulfed into this forest. To my right is a house that is not fully built yet. The walls are still bricks and the ceiling is still just scrap. To my left is a cluster of trees that shades the sunset from view, but still manages to let some light pass through and gives a pattern of shapes of light onto the path.
The morning is sometimes dreading, having to wake up to a storm and school is suspended. The clouds are too thick that the green color of the leaves gives its darkest hue. In a typhoon, the trees are all being dragged by the heavy winds until they fall to the ground or they stand like a human who has been frozen and her long hair is flowing high in one direction. There are times when we cut them and use the wood for making fire, but there are also times when we just leave them on the ground, like ruins of a demolished temple.
Growing up in this place is a rare and fortunate thing for me. Everyday, I get inspired by the wood and leaves that surround our house. So much greenery that I tend to be playful and closer to the woods than any other kid. Most of the time, I dropped to my knees on the ground and ended up going back to our house, calling my mother, and removing the soil that was left on my wound. I grew up looking like a barbecue stick with all the scars on my legs.
Reflecting back, I realized that the forest is an amazing place to be. Its splendour that emerges through its maze of trees is a beauty that no structure, no artwork, and no artificial world can possess. The woods are simply and already an artwork that speaks for itself, and I’m lucky I’m one of those who heard its call.