Mio, John and Lydia with Sadie
What good memories are made of
HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE - Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2018 - 12:00am

Last weekend, Lydia and I, my son Mio, my daughter Ala and her husband John Buencamino and their baby Sadie went on a short land trip to Turon Gates at the outer Blue Mountains in Capertee to live in a cabin for two nights and three days. We wanted to have bonding time.

It was a leisurely two-hour drive outside of Sydney. It was also a beautiful day. We stopped in a few places for lunch and coffee on the way up.

Turon Gates is surrounded by mountains and rolling hills. To get to our cabin, we had to drive through some unpaved roads. The landscape is quite majestic. It was mostly brownish in color with sparse but beautiful touches of greenery, and fallen trees not uncommon during winter. We saw a few kangaroos, wallabies and wombats running around

The cabin was quite spacious. It had two rooms, a moderately sized living area and a sala with a fireplace to keep the house warm, two bathrooms, and a big balcony. The cabin ran on solar power. It was not connected to the electric grid. The solar panels generated the electricity. We had to be mindful of our power consumption knowing that we could run out. The oven in the cabin was gas-run.

It was a cozy setup. Well, it was supposed to be except for one small thing. The weather forecast that weekend was a high of 18 degrees Celsius and a low of -4 degrees.

When we got there, Ala, Mio, John and I took a walk near the river. The weather was nippy. The terrain was interesting. We walked beside the river and saw some wildlife that tried to avoid us. Interestingly, we saw skeletons of small animals, probably of wallabies, which we picked up and brought to the cabin.

That night, dinner was adobo with rice — comfort food that Lydia prepared the night before we left.

Author Jim Paredes and Sadie

It was cold. In fact, we were freezing in bed. I had layers of clothing on and four blankets over me. Aside from my thermals and sweaters, I had to wear a beanie to keep my head warm. Apparently the fireplace was not big enough to heat up the whole cabin. It only warmed the sala where my son Mio slept.

When we woke up around 8 a.m., we saw a thin film of frost covering the rocky brownish landscape. The trees that covered the hills were frosted too. We also discovered that no water was coming out of the tap. Apparently, the pipes were frozen. 

I called the main office and told them about the water situation. The manager assured us that water would be resumed soon. He advised us to keep all the taps open. Once the ice had thawed, he said, water service would resume. In about an hour and a half, water came back just in time to wash the plates and cooking pans we had used for a hearty breakfast.

None of us seemed to mind the minor inconveniences. We were just happy to be together. We spent a lot time sitting around the table and just talked, laughed, reminisced. We took photos, cooked and ate.

Most of my family were there except for Erica and Ananda who live in France. We all just felt great being together even if we were incomplete. Since we now all live apart from each other, we had a lot of catching up to do.

Our apo Zadie, Ala and John’s daughter, was the center of attention and delight. She just loved the cold and the presence of her Tito Mio, Lolo and Lola. We showered her with affection. She seemed to have discovered that we are all close and connected and that her family was actually bigger than she thought.

That afternoon, we drove around Turon Gates and stopped by near a river. We spread a blanket to sit on and took some photos. Ala brought a ukulele and played and sang. Everything was picture perfect and pleasant.

Ala and John on the way up.

We went home early and set a fire and drank some wine. As it got dark I played the ukulele and sang a few songs. Mio turned on his phone and we went live on Facebook. It was such a unique moment that we wanted to share with friends.

After dinner, Mio and decided to brave the freezing two degrees Celsius weather and drive out to a hill we had passed earlier. We wanted to take photos of the stars. The sky was awesomely beautiful. The heavenly bodies were showing off in a grand way. They were fabulous and countless. Without much effort, we could see the Milky Way spread out across the sky.  We climbed the hill guided by a torch that lit the way. We could see a few kangaroos staring at us. It scared me a bit but we figured that we were safe as long as we left them alone.

Since we did not bring tripods, we balanced our cameras on rocks and tree stumps to shoot the night sky. It was such a special moment. There we were, out in freezing weather and almost unmindful of it, totally absorbed and awe-struck by the greatness of God’s creation. 

I felt especially blessed. I thought to myself, How many fathers can claim to have had a night like this with their son? I smiled in gratitude. Mio and I were totally enjoying each others’ company as we tried to go for the best shots. There was no effort to even connect. We just connected naturally and seamlessly. It is a night I will always remember.

The next day, we drove back home to Sydney. It was great to be home. 

That night, we all exchanged photos via internet to relish the weekend we had. We will probably do this more often.

This is what good memories are made of.

GOOD MEMORIES
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