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"Calamansi Lessons" by Michael Little


My friend asks me, “What’s that tree outside your kitchen window?” I know the answer, but I don’t tell him, not yet. I give him a slight smile, take a deep breath, and finally say, “Follow me.” He rolls his eyes, but follows me back out the front door and down the porch steps. “Stay on the path,” I tell him. We walk slowly along the ewa side of the house. “Stay on the path,” I say again, and then “Look at the orchids on the side of the path,” and then “Look at the croton up ahead on the path.”

My friend stops. “Just a minute,” he says, “why do you keep talking about the path? I don’t think I’ll get lost.” “Just stay on the path,” I tell him. He shakes his head, but follows me when the narrow path turns right, and then we’re in the back of the house, the mauka side.

We squeeze past ti plants and a small palm. I stop for a moment and tell him, “How about this path? Some path, right? P-a-t-h.”

And now we’re here, just outside the kitchen window. I tell him to face away from the house and close his eyes, and just be patient. He rolls his eyes again, but obeys. After a while I tell him to open his eyes, and I ask him what he sees. “Hundreds of little green leaves,” he says.

“Yes, but be more attentive. Look closer.”

“Little limes!” He begins counting, but there are dozens and dozens.

“Good. Now take two steps into the tree, as far as you can go, and then slowly look up.”

“Wow,” he says. “This is one tall little tree, and a few glimpses of blue sky and white clouds.”

“Very good,” I tell him. “Aren’t you glad you came? Are you thankful?”

“I am thankful,” he says. “I could stay here a while.”

“And now you know why I kept saying the word ‘path.’ P is for ‘patient.’ A is for ‘attentive.’ And T is for ‘thankful.”

“What about the H in path?” he asks me. “No, don’t tell me. If I’m patient, and attentive, and thankful, I will be … happy!”

“Bingo! Now let’s pick a few of these calamansi limes. They’re great on salad and or in water.”

My friend smiles and says, “OK, but let me stay here a while longer. I think I found my happy place.”


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