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... an orange sun low in the sky

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Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

... an orange sun low in the sky

1973, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  The Taiwan Provincial Symphony Orchestra was coming into town.  I was in my first year of high school.  My father was given free tickets because of his position at the ruling KMT Party.  He pulled me out of the school that day; in my school uniform, I sat on the front roll of the concert hall, listening to the Western symphonic music for the first time ever in my life.  I had never heard anything like it; I was so moved, I had joyous tears in my eyes that to this day I still don't know where they came from.  


Three nights ago, on the eve of my departure for America, my husband suggested that I read our son's English assignment, entitled "Personal Reflection."  It was late at night and I hadn't even packed my bag.  My son wrote about his reminiscences of Australia, "the sun burnt country."  As my kids were born in South-East Asia, up until 4 and a half years ago before we moved back here, their memories of Australia were mostly from our annual beach holidays.  He describes a fishing experience during one of those holidays: 



It is ironic that the memories most vivid are those of Australia and our annual pilgrimages back to Noosa for our Christmas holidays.  I would always look forward to these holidays for they were my only experience of what was supposedly my home country.  One particular event that sands out is shore fishing off the rocks of Little Cove.  Late afternoon warranted weakening light and an orange sun low in the sky.  Golden light skimmed the surface of the ocean creating stunning patterns of reflection.  The point was a peaceful sanctuary.  Swiftly, the armies of the seas would surge towards the rock wall and bombard it with all its force.  Occasionally, the ocean would deliver a penetrating blow when a larger wave collided heavily which resulted in troops erupting further into unfriendly territory.  Perhaps, the sea was a relentless warzone.  The smell of eucalypt combined with a salty breeze to form that earthy sent that was comforting yet unique. 


I would never catch any fish out there; I had enough trouble holding the rod even with two hands.  Also, I had a tricky encounter with our poor choice of bait.  Bloodworms.  I soon found out why they were called bloodworms after I pierced one onto my hook and it spewed a volcano of inferno red all over my long-sleeved white beach shirt that I was made to wear.  What a gruesome experience.  More difficulties arose with actually keeping the pest on the hook.  Casting proved to be another tricky enterprise to undertake.  A five metre cast with arctic winds to aid me would be a heroic effort indeed therefore Dad would usually cast for me.  He would be hauling in fish beside me whilst I, who was sitting just three metres to his left, wouldn't catch a thing.  With my thin forearms flexed, eyebrows crooked and eyes peeled I would concentrate my entire mental wrath just calling, aiding the sea creatures into my domain.  Alas, my mental strain paid off.  I reeled in the line as hastily as my might would allow only to find an empty hook.  At this stage Dad would let me reel in one of his own catch and claim it as my own.  A bear-like hug for my glorious accomplishment was definitely in order.  Despite my bad luck, it was moments like those that put a smile on my face that reached the tip of my ears and a booming laughter that could be heard across the Pacific.  



It was when I read "... an orange sun low in the sky.  Golden light skimmed the surface of the ocean...." that my eyes became wet with joy - because he could see what I saw. 


He finishes his "Personal Reflection" with the following:



I still feel a great connection to Singapore and its unique culture of coconut milk, straw skirts and 'hawker' food markets.  However, reminiscing now I realize just how deep my love for the land down under has entrenched.  It must have grown from my absolute fascination of Australian wildlife and admiration of its charm and care-free way of life.  To me, it will always remain a tropical escape of tremendous adventure.  My bonds to Australia stand Goliath tall; my David attachment to Singapore shrinks into the background.  Thinking back, those bliss Christmas relaxations created a great desire to voyage to my homeland.  Therefore, rather than dread the day I would eventually leave, I was eager to explore this new continent, make long-term friendships and above all, finally reside in the land of my nationality - Australia.



                                                                                         


                                                                                          2001 Christmas holiday


My son, 14, first year of high school. 


Shiao-Ping

Comments

ehanner's picture
ehanner

How touching Shiao-Ping, thank you for sharing your personal thoughts and those of your son. He must be quite a young man to have given this such serious consideration. The fruit stays close to the tree indeed.


Eric

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

sometimes we don't know what is exactly in our kids' little heads.  Quieter kids (like quieter people) are harder for us to work out, I guess.


Shioa-Ping

brian camp's picture
brian camp

Shiao-Ping, what beautiful writing from your son.  I believe he has a wonderful  natural talent of expression. I hope he continues to write!  Thanks for sharing.  Brian

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Shiao-Ping

chouette22's picture
chouette22

This is a dramatic piece of writing with wide-ranging vocabulary for someone of that age, or any age really. Hats off to him!


My son just finished his first year of high school, I know that age well and can understand how proud you must be of him, his thinking and essay. 


I also appreciate that subject matter since my family is also multi-national and multi-lingual. It is always fascinating to me how my children think about their three countries: the US where they live and were born, Switzerland where they have spent every single summer of their lives (my entire family lives there), and India where they have been 3 or 4 times so far (where my husband's family lives). Their reflections and appreciation of their cultural heritage keeps changing as they grow older, and I would certainly love to read this kind of essay from them at some point.


Have a great stay in America!

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

... we are a multi-cultural but not multi-lingual family.  My daughter is better at French than at Mandarin.  My son learns Mandarin in school but it is really hard.   


Shiao-Ping 

cfmuirhead's picture
cfmuirhead

You and your son have beautiful sensitivity and writing skills that allow you to transpose your feelings in prose so vividly.  Congratulations to you both.  Your son's writing is so touching and eloquent for his age - he is highly talented, I am sure you know that well.  And so are you Shio-Ping:  it is always a great pleasure to read your blogs.  May you both continue to practice writing to our great enjoyment.    Claudine

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

With a comment like that, I am afraid to write back.  But many thanks for your most generous comment.  More than three years ago, my son wrote a poem about Polly our dog (English assignment too).  I still have a hard copy somewhere.  Four and a half years ago when we left Singapore to come back to Austalia, he was the only one in the family who cried at leaving our dog, Dotty, a Dalmatian.  We gave Dotty to an English expact family.   My son is very good at sports too, cricket in summer, soccer in winter, and tennis in between.  But you know, these kids may be good at something, but they have very short attention span.   These days there are just too many distractions out there. 


Shiao-Ping

Green Tea's picture
Green Tea

Thank you for sharing this!  What talented beautiful writing.  Sometimes the most simplest of phrases cast the clearest image, it is all proportionate to the depth and emotion invested into them.  An orange sun low in the sky indeed.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

... with a user name like that; may I share a Japanese macha green tea swirl bread recipe I have with you?  I will get to it the first chance I have),


Thank you.


Shiao-Ping

Green Tea's picture
Green Tea

Mm, matcha green tea swirl bread sounds delicious!  Thank you!

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

a most talented young man. Very poetic.  I read part of the essay to my husband, he was equally impressed. It is truly a gift to be able to paint with words.


Betty

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

shiao-ping

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

"Quiet rivers run deep."


Beautiful sentiments, beautifully expressed.


David

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

I haven't had the nerve to tell my son that I blogged his English essay (I am safe as they don't look at my blog).


Shiao-Ping

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Shiao-Ping.


I'm sure it's not your lack of nerve; it's your good judgement.


My advice is to wait until you can tell your grandchildren what a good writer their father was at 14 years old. He will be surprised and pleased then, whereas he would be embarrassed and annoyed if you told him now that you wanted to show off his work to others.


Then he will ask you why you waited so long to tell him what you thought of his essay, and you will reply (with a very wise expression on your face), "Wait until your children are 14 years old. Then you will understand."


Perhaps you will not have to wait so long. My younger son, who is now a university professor, did stop rolling his eyes at how stupid his father was right after he turned 14.


David

Reuben Morningchilde's picture
Reuben Morningchilde

Thanks, once again, for allowing us this glimpse into your family life, and most intriguing, into the toughts of your son.

MC's picture
MC

You must be very proud of him, Shiao-Ping! I love the way Singapore fades away in his conciousness and Australia soars. Are your kids bilingual?


Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

... we are not a bilingual family.  I have a Taiwanese ex-colleague who married a French lady; their three sons speak French to the mum, Mandarin to the dad, and English in school in Singapore - the whole family are tri-lingual. 


It's too late for us to change now.  My kids do have some basics in Mandarin and if the environment is right (say, six months in Taiwan), they would be approaching Mandarin at least with no fear.


shiao-ping

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Shiao-ping:


How's your family in Taiwan?  Hope everyone's safe.


Yippee

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

The typhoon was really scary.  A village down south was completely wiped out - all 500 villagers were buried.  There was one bus driver who, having dropped off passengers, decided to go back to the village to see if he could get more people out.  He got 30 odd passengers and on the way out the land slide caught him from behind and the bus and the people were all buried.    


My family in Taiwan were lucky.  They are all fine.  Often people in the city are fine.   Thank you, Yippee, for asking.  


Shiao-Ping

Yippee's picture
Yippee

just like the earth quake in China, but I'm glad to hear your family's fine.  


 


Yippee

MC's picture
MC

...in Mandarin is in itself a huge advantage. Lucky kids!


clio's picture
clio

Thank you for sharing!  I agree too that perhaps being quieter or expressing in another medium like writing does confuse some.  But look at what's there! Lovely.


cheers, Clio

knud's picture
knud

Hello


 


You wrote you are new to Victoria, Welcome, I am sure you will love it here.


You are looking for King Arthur Flour I don't think you will find it here; you might try "Millstream Flour Mil" 1181 Ladysmith s, in James Bay, 250 384 3613, he has some very fine product, but he is pricey,. I myself has used Rogers AP for many years and never been disappointed the protein in Rogers is 13.7% in KA 11.7%, Canadian A/P flour is Truly an all purpose flour.


Should you need any help finding stuff give me a ring


250 383 3016


Take care


Knud / ken

Franko's picture
Franko

The closest Canadian flour I've found to KA bread flour in terms of protein content is Meunerie Milanese from Quebec. In fact, it's the only one I've found so far that's in the 12% range. You can find it at Quality Foods or some health food stores. It's a beautiful organic flour, but not exactly budget friendly unless you're indulging a baking hobby.


Franko