Saturday at the rice fields

August 27, 2016:

I traveled with my language school to learn about rice- how it’s planted, grown and the farmers behind the work. Naturally, you have to leave early before the sun is at its strongest, we met at 6:30am to prepare for the trip to Kandal Province. Even though we arrived before 9am, the sun managed to shine, what felt like, its strongest rays on us while we were learning how to plant in the rice fields. 

It was incredible to not only witness work but skills the farmers pass down to the next generation. The labor is not for the faint of heart. For each bend of your back you press the the tall green stalks in the mud with your thumb deep enough into the earth so the plant can securely root itself. This is repeated every 20 centimeters in a grid-like formation until the rice field is full. It usually takes one farmer many many hours to plant what the 30+ of us were able to help accomplish in about an hour. Granted, with all the guidance we were given, I hope we planted the rice correctly so that farmers did not have to replant the next day!

I was unsure of my feelings after… would I find my hidden gift of farming or would I [internally] moan at the repeated back bending under the sun. I am not naive to forget I have some of ‘city’ in me in which labor will become tiring to me and I will dream of a cold shower and a nap under a fan. But after the field was filled with crop and we looked up at what we had worked at, many of the first time, I was satisfied. Not with my work, I’m sure it was shoddy at best but that I was able to learn something I probably would never have learned otherwise in a community that was gracious of my ignorance and welcoming to teach a newbie farmer like myself.

Take-aways:

  1. I did not discover a hidden skill in rice planting
  2. When I next eat rice, which I do most everyday, I may feel the need to bend over to plant an imaginary crop in the mud… one of the strongest memories associated with rice now
  3. I eat produce with appreciation because farming and hard labor are NOT for the faint of heart
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Throwback to Kampot

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From the balcony at Les Manguiers, with views of the river, it was near five o’clock when a fleet of fishing boats glided down the river; finished with their work they heading back into town.

People call Kampot a sleepy town. The quiet atmosphere and relaxed ambiance quickly brings your mind to stillness. Stone benches are scattered along the riverside in hopes that a passerby will seize the moment to rest and enjoy the view. The architecture in downtown reminds me of French Colonial era with the pastel pigmented buildings, white stone railings and windows identical and evenly spaced out along the upper floors.

It would be easy to overlook the town because of its quiet persona but do not be deceived, it is full of life right under the surface. The cafes welcome you in with a cup of coffee under the shade of the patio and and keep you with the jazz- like music that blends into the background. When Sarah and I arrived at Les Manguiers it felt like we entered into a version of Swiss Family Robinson with three notable differences: 1) we were in Cambodia 2) we arrived by choice and 3) we did not have to forage for our food. Set along side the river, upstream from the city center, it was remote and peaceful with bicycles to take us into town and kayaks to explore the waterways. It was just short* of magical, a natural gem that gave me respite from the bustling city of Phnom Penh. If you find yourself in Cambodia, may I suggest Kampot.

*I let the realist in me speak for a moment 

 

End of Summer

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Kampot

August is almost over?!

Sarah was just here and it was August 9th. The month was still in the warm-up stage before full throttle.

September is quickly approaching and I feel that the next few months or so have the potential to FLY BY!

*Deep breaths*

It’s all good. There’s no ticking time bomb… just the future. So I can calm down… in Khmer you’d say, naow owy s’ngeeum.

Being faced with the next: next step, next move, next transition…. NEXT can be a bit of a fearful word. No ‘bit’ about it, actually. The planner in me assumes that after the word next a plan- steps to action- follows. But as of late, when I think next, “…” follows.

I have a vision for the future but those steps to action are still in the ruminating stage. So my mantra right now is…

All is well. 

Be still. Be calm. 

Don’t forget to pray. 

When a chicken is running around headless, rational thinking does not usually take precedence. But in states of emergency or anxiety CALMNESS is usually a good start. I am neither in a state of emergency nor am I or overtaken with anxiety. Life changes, transitions and new ventures can open doors of possibility. And with that door being open, for me at least, fear tends to sneak in the doorway uninvited. So my little mantra is a preventative measure- preliminary- to the ‘what’s next’ thoughts that continue.

All is well. Be still. Be calm. Don’t forget to pray.

 

Cheers,