Mystery of an Aster

I sometimes find myself wandering in the landscape of inner spaces.

The sights are just as intriguing as adventures in faraway places.

When does a cluster of flowers become one? Where does a disc end and a ray begin?

When does randomness become a pattern, a shape, a form, a meaning, a reason for being?

The riddles of the universe are often repeated in the mysteries of smaller things.


(In many plants of the Asteraceae family, what appears to be a single flower is actually a cluster of much smaller flowers. The overall appearance of the cluster, as a single flower, functions in attracting pollinators in the same way as the structure of an individual flower in some other plant families. 

disc flower is a radially symmetric individual flower in the head, which is ringed by ray flowers when both are present.

-from Wikipedia)



Fisherman and Two Sons Set Out to Sea

ipil09 trio

A fisherman gets help from his two sons push the boat out to sea. Sundown signals the beginning of the working night for these traditional fisherfolk.

(On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.)


Phillip Island – Near the Edge of the World

When you want to get away
as far away from it all
maybe not quite Antarctica
but close enough to the edge of the world.

You can wait every sundown
to greet the penguins goodnight
when they come back to roost.

Or be like a koala
living on eucalypt leaves
it keeps them high
sleeping all day
moving in slow-mo.


Memories of escape.

Taal Volcano in the Philippines

It looks harmless from a distance but it’s an active volcano. Volcano Island, where its eruptions are concentrated, is in the middle of Taal Lake in the island of Luzon in the Philippines. A volcano within a lake within an island.

It seduces, flirts, “Come closer, get to know me.”

I succumb. I get on a half-hour boat ride across the lake to Volcano Island.

On the island, another half-hour by horseback up the mountain. Finally, the crater lake. Beyond the ridge, the surrounding Taal Lake is visible. Somehow it reminds me of an infinity pool.

Swim at your own risk. The water is dilute sulfuric acid with some nasty heavy metals thrown in. I pass.

There’s a small island within the crater lake called Vulcan Point. An island in a lake in a volcano in a lake in an island.

It’s quite a thrilling if ambivalent experience — being on top of the mountain, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, surrounded by the lake; at the same time being close to the edge, to the dark violence that can erupt anytime with nary a warning, cut off in an island. I can think of a few similar temptations.

Back on shore I admire Taal Volcano from a distance. It is captivating from afar, but I’ve also seen its dark side. Maybe I don’t have to choose one or the other, they’re just two parts of this thing called Taal, this volcano within a lake within an island.