Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kindred Spirits

It's a fascinating thing to meet a person with whom, at least on paper, you should have almost nothing in common, only to discover you are very much alike.

So it is with my primary host's father-in law. Abah is a soft-spoken man, a pious Malay Muslim and a devoted father and grandfather. He and I have shared a few cups of tea and a meal or two, both of us quietly regarding our language barrier and minding our manners. Until this weekend, I never expected that he and I would find much common ground.

But now that we are all spending the weekend at his kampung home in Melaka, I see something that I understand perfectly well. His property is one big beautiful garden, filled with palms, fruit trees, cooking herbs, and of course, gorgeous tropical flowers. As I wandered through this space, I saw many signs of projects in process. Saplings here, staked plants there; all indications of an inspired and imaginative gardener.

Hmm. I can relate to that.

My hunches were confirmed by a scene in the far corner of the yard. Under the unforgiving equatorial midday sun, Abah was busy at work. Surrounded by a huge pile of branches and sawing away to beat the band, my host was pruning his mango tree with skill and enthusiasm. In short foreign phrases peppered with clarifying gestures, he explained that the tree has not been producing fruit so he was thinning out the branches to allow more light to filter through.

I understood perfectly.

And as I watched him surveying his project, skillfully removing unhelpful branches, then hauling the whole pile of trimmings off to a far corner of the property, I knew we were more than just cordial strangers. Recognizing in him the heart and soul of a fellow gardener, I would say we are kindred spirits.

Geometric progression.

Coconuts, wild and untamed.

Textures of green and a splash of lilac.

A sweet little lemon, almost ripe.

Pisang leaf. 

The color of Abah's home reminds me of Monet's home in the French countryside. 

These gorgeous flowers popped up here and there in Abah's garden, ranging in color from delicate purple to bold pink...

...and scarlet red against the blue sky.

Deep shadows and brilliant sun.

Can't get enough of that red.

Even the spent blossoms are gorgeous.

Oh, here's one in peach, looking handsome against the sand-colored walls.

Pops of purple.

Purple, white and green. 

A huge yellow trumpet flower. I felt like Alice looking down the rabbit hole. 

Hmm. This looks like an experiment to me.

Coconut tree, and beyond, the trail of the local wild boar. 

And here is the most important of Abah's great gardening projects...he tends a sweet little flower named Aleesya.

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To find all the stories of my amazing adventures in southeast Asia, go here:

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