the first morning walk for 2012

it was snowing hard. not quite a snow storm but enough to make me need to bundle up in three layers on top (t-shirt under turtle neck under snow jacket), and three layers in the bottom (thermals, leggings, and knee-high snow boots).  I protected my hat-covered head with my hoodie, tied it snuggly in front of my face with only my eyes and nose showing.  it wasn’t that cold – it never is when snow’s falling down, just about 1ºC (spoken like a true assimilated canadian, eh?! :p) – and had myself a relaxed, serene, sweep-the-cobwebs-in-my-head-away walk, snow falling into my face and on my iPhone everytime i took it out to take a photo.

everything was so bright that at one point i felt i was going to fall into the white ocean beneath me.  it’s quite disorienting to walk on pure white and in this winter’s quiet that’s almost all-encompassing.  the only sounds were the occasional school bus (it is quite early in the morning) and the crunching of my boots on the fresh snow.  in front, across, above, below, pure bright white snow with just a few black bare branches covered with white powder, snow-sprinkled bushes jutting out of the white ground and the honking canadian geese overhead.  there’s the blue benches by the lake and those crazy loonie loons over there wading in the frozen water!  what the…how can these birds stand this cold and in the lake’s sub-zero waters too?

adaptation.  this is what the loons are used to.  i bet if i put them in warm, salty waters of our beaches in boracay or manila bay with all it’s hot dirt – ew! – they’d perish faster than you can say quack! this is what their systems are used to.  they’re built for this cold, where it’s winter four to five months of the year.  i think about this and wonder to myself: is this what i’m built for?

not really.  is this what my system is used to?  well, now it is.  the last time i was in philippines which was over the holidays, it wasn’t that bad.  the heat was tolerable because it does go to the mid-20s in manila, december-january months.  but the summer we were there, oh my hotness!  my system’s gotten so used to canada’s cold weather that the humidity in manila has become quite unbearable.  i am fanning myself inside airconditioned rooms and getting all so sweaty-dizzy in the Greenhills tiangge that i need to guzzle down bottles of water every few minutes.  one reunion of college friends at chili’s, mark half-joked if i was having hot flashes already.  mark, i’m only 44 (43 last summer) and i don’t think menopause has arrived yet.  it will someday soon but for now, let’s hold off talk of flashes of any kind, ok?  :p  

assimilation.  we make do.  we get used to things the way they are.  for the bigger picture that we want to be a part of.  just two days ago i got my canadian citizenship oath-taking appointment letter.  it was set for jan. 23 and i opened my mail on the 25th.  i missed it.  but the kind officer at the citizenship centers in mississauga said that since it’s my first time to miss it, i’ll be receiving an automatic second appointment in two to three weeks time.  you bet i’m going to check that mailbox everyday from now on!  jack was so pissed off at us missing it since we’ve been at this citizenship game for over 7-8 years now.  it’s been challenging, the whole process of being the last in the family to be a non-citizen but here it is, i’ll take it!

it’s been 11 years, since 2001, that i’ve become, chosen to be canadian.  the papers are really just a formality and a convenience.  like i tell my friends who understand: “i’ll never have to put up with the hassle of ‘papers please’ (kids’ birth certificates, IDs, PR card etc.) and being thought of as the kids caregiver (yaya) or worse suspected of kidnapping them when traveling alone with them.  the names and citizenship are in order now.  thank you very much.

when jack and i had our eldest son, sol, in 2000, we both decided to live here in toronto.  the years seem to have flown by.  just like the geese that come and go, it seems like only a couple seasons ago that we came to this country.  now my then little boy of 1 and 1/2 is 11 and came two more blessings, a girl and another boy who keep me busy and on my tippy toes everyday.  i write these words with a smile on my semi-chapped lips, remembering to put on more chapstick and slather some moisturizer on my drying up face.

adaptation.  i’ve done very well for myself considering i grew up on a hill just above the warm ocean across the pearl farms of mindanao.

now i’m growing up just across a snow-covered lake dotted with the honking geese of canada.

Courage in creativity,
Chiqui

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