Palm fronds droop like tired eyebrows arched above sleepy eyelids; the day is almost done. Advancing darkness begins, first with grayish hues slightly but ever so steadily darkening as each minute passes.
The noon breeze returns to the sea. It’s spent the day playing in the trees, creating dervishes among the black thorn bushes, the dreaded candaroma plants. Seagulls follow the sea breeze and in its wake they shriek their mournful cries.
In the neighborhood of tiny grass huts the kitchens are literally afire and ablaze with food preparation activities. It seems as if every household prepares the evening’s meal at the same time. The air turns into vapor-laden droplets heavy with the aromas of simmering fish broth, boiled sweet potatoes, freshly gathered squash flowers, bittermelon and eggplant and freshly shucked lima beans. From other corners of the Barangay come the smell of anchovy fish sauce poured over broiled hot peppers. That smell is so heavenly it brings back good old memories.
The entire village becomes a smorgasbord of scintillating scents. The pot of steaming rice boils over dampening the coals with starchy water. Smoke rises from the kitchen roofs, carrying the viands’ essence being readied for the evening’s repast.
Melodious guitar strains waft from a distance. Crickets chirp while the cicadas repeat the cacophony they’ve sung for a million years. Closer to shore, the blue jays scream as they dart up and over the dunes ruffling the bulrush and saw-grass leaves. Tree stands that line the fences turn into silhouettes, their sharply defined leaves melting into one dark glob.
I miss the twilight hour in the old fishing village I called home. The scents and sounds are unlike any other I’ve ever smelled and heard even in my travels. Nowhere in the world can compare to my home by the South China Sea.