As I write this article, it is still the “Rainy Season” up here in Pasuquin. This season usually runs from sometime around May or June to sometime during the “ber” months. One just can’t put a finger on a definite period – like seven days in a week – to define this season. (I was going to use a month for an example but, you know, 30, 31, 28, or 29 days doesn’t really make my point.) Rainy season starts when the rains start, and ends when the rains end, more or less.
Technically, the season is rooted in such things like tropical convection zones, monsoonal conditions, tropical depressions, and so on. All I care to know is whether I’ll need my payong (payong) [umbrella] when I go out. Sometimes the rains are monsoon-like: A constant, consistent rainfall that hardly varies at all for hours on end. Most common are afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Occasionally, a tropical depression develops into a tropical storm that builds into a typhoon. That means a lot of very mean rain and very high winds, plus chances for thunderstorms and funnel clouds/waterspouts.
We felt the last round of storms – those that caused the horrific flooding in Manila and surrounding areas – as gusty winds and one Friday night’s worth of very mean downpours and thunderstorms. The next morning, rice fields revealed that a few microbursts of wind and rain flattened the crop in some small areas. Sort of like “crop circles” but definitely storm related. Other than that, not much damage accompanied the driving rains.
The Thursday before the storm, I was alone. Baket ko (Asawa ko) [My wife] Emy was in Manila with some relatives picking up a used car and bringing it back up north. While they were fortunately making their way north, I celebrated my 60th birthday by discovering a curious growth on one of our banana trees.
There was a purplish growth or pod coming out from the top leaves. I hadn’t noticed it before but there it was. This definitely was not another leaf to grow and unfurl, as did a number of leaves before it. Nature was providing me a birthday present. The tree was producing a blossom – I was going to be a daddy to a bunch of bananas!
As I looked at it, I thought, “Here’s a way to chase any rainy season-induced blues away. I’ll document its growth with pictures. A picture a day – that should keep me busy for the rest of the rainy season, however long that may be. I’ll add some comments and have a logbook or a (ho-hum) journal. (In my youth I developed a severe dislike for journals – those were things that the “snooty kids” would make for extra credit in school.)
My goal will be to put together an interesting article, while beating back those blues. Hopefully readers will enjoy this little log.
09/24/09 – First noticed a blossom appearing on one of our banana trees. Will try to keep a runnng log on its progress for as long as I dare.
09/25/09 – I almost forgot that I was going to take pictures of the banana tree each day. Around 3:30 PM, I pulled out my digital camera and walked out to the tree. I was amazed at the speed of development. This blossom was definitely coming out of the leaves and would soon “make its turn” and start showing some signs of the fruit once “petals” started to open up and fall off. I thought that it’s only Friday – better not expect too much right away.
09/26/09 – Overnight was quite a storm – Tropical Storm Ketsana (Ondoy) to be exact. Thunder, lightning, wind gusts and very heavy downpour. During the night, I didn’t really expect the blossom to be there when daylight broke. I was sure the storm would have claimed it as its victim. I was quite surprised (and relieved) to see the storm’s effects. Like some form of natural mid-wife, the storm helped the blossom “make its turn.” That was quick but I’m sure, storm induced. Could this occur at such a quick pace on its own?
09/27/09 – The blossom is showing signs of continued growth and it is drooping further. I can’t believe the speed of nature. I only first noticed this miracle of life a few days ago. Already it has progressed along quite well and quite quickly. I can see a pedal or two starting to pull away from the blossom. There will be layer after layer of pedals. Beneath each pedal will be a “hand” of about 12-20 “fingers” or bananas. I’ve also noticed that most of the growth and movement occurs overnight, so far.
09/28/09 – The outer pedals of the blossom started to pull away from the blossom today. In only four days, this blossom went from barely peaking through the other leaves to growing thick and having its outer pedals pull away. Along with being thicker, I’m starting to detect some “ripples” along the pedals. Could those be the baby bananas, waiting for the pedal to pull away and fall off? I wonder when I’ll find out the answer. The day-to-day changes are amazing.
09/29/09 – There it is! The first hand to come into view as the pedal that protected it moved away. It’s not even a week and I’m seeing a hand full of fingers. Later in the day, its job finished, the blossom pedal (directly being the hand in the picture) fell away from the plant. A second pedal is pulling away and, yes, beneath it is another hand. I’m beginning to wonder just how many hands and how many fingers I’ll have. A bunch, or banana stem, can weigh 30-50 kg and have up to 400 fingers, or bananas grouped approximately 12-20 fingers per hand.
09/30/3009 – Overnight, another pedal dropped off and exposed a second hand full of fingers. Additionally, the first hand has started its own turn upward. Bananas grow “bottoms up” and each hand will turn upward toward the sky. During the afternoon, yet another pedal started to pull away from the blossom. That means three full hands are now visible. Even the second hand that appeared overnight started to make its turn to the sky. This has to be the fastest growing fruit I’ve ever seen.
Little did I know at the end of September that some changes were in store for me, my banana plant and all those hands and fingers. There’s a storm a-brewin’ – a BIG storm.