It's late August in Kravan, almost September. Amazing! The rice fields are full of water. Every day at the farm Pea catches fish (pla chorn, pla duk, pla mo, pla nim…). She catches baby shrimp and crabs. And every two or three days, a snake. We have a snake in the refrigerator right now! Soon, she tells me, there will be no reason for buy food. There is pak boong in the water and long delicious lotus roots. There are wild mushrooms, a zillion different kinds.
The other day it struck me that August and September in a monsoonal climate are almost like summer is to North America and Europe. My flower and orchid garden in the front of the house is happy and beautiful beyond description. A few of the orchids are in flower, but most orchids here use rainy season as a time of growth, producing roots and leaves but not flowers. The jasmines and gardenias are in flower, the hibiscus, and all the plants for which I don't even know a name. I think everyone here in the village thinks I'm a little bit nuts with my garden (why grow flowers when you could grow food?), but people have been really nice. Almost every day someone brings a start for something I don't have, or seeds.
Pea doesn't think I am nuts. She's just as obsessive, and way more. We will be driving down the road on the motorbike and she will suddenly stop, turn the bike off, and then go to gather some seeds from a flowering plant that she particularly likes in someone's front yard. From the forest at the farm she brings home wild irises, and aquatic plants to live in the fish and frog ponds (we now have five!). Everywhere there is LIFE.
In the morning, every morning, with a cup of coffee I go into the garden. I do a little of this, a little of that. An hour passes. Several hours pass. It's bliss. Almost the entire garden exists under the large mango tree which stands at the front of the house. There is also a wild lime tree, a domestic lime, a custard apple tree, and a papaya tree. So basically, it is a shade garden. If I put something out into the direct sun, and leave it, it perishes. I have everything planted in pots, something I learned last year in Nang Rong. And I put very little soil in the pots, basically planting most everything in finely slivered coconut husks (which I am constantly cutting). I first started doing this with the orchids, but then realized that it works for almost everything. The lateritic soil here is way too dense to use as potting soil.
It rains most every day, but not guaranteed. Yesterday it must have rained a good three inches, but today, so far, nothing. I have a friend coming to visit next week, but getting away for more than one night is out of the question. Pea works five or six hours every single day at the farm, and the gardens here in the village really suffer if they go more than two days without water. It's weird, so much water and yet never enough. We can't even get into the farm anymore on the motorbike because the road has been for weeks washed out, but still, we're hoping for more rain. If we get big rain three days in a row, then the farm is full of big fish.
One thing (or I mean many things, but one more than all the others) I don't understand is where the fish come from. For six months out of the year it is dry season, and the fields are baked hard as clay. Then rainy season arrives and the fields fill up with water, and then there are fish. But where do they come from?
And wow, do the fish grow fast! Same with the frogs!