Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Winter 2016/2017

Southeast Asia’s winters go from December through February and then rapidly ramp up in temperature. March begins summer -- the hottest time of the year (April-June). There is no spring season as many people used to four seasons would expect.

This winter, we lived out at the farm for the first time. I loved it, as I knew I would -- especially the clear skies that only occur at this time of year. To my surprise and pleasure, my wife not only enjoyed it, too, but got into it. For a year and more, she’s planted fruit trees and vegetables along the perimeter of our dirt pad, elevated from the surrounding rice paddies. Every day she irrigates and likes it.


Unfortunately, I got sick again this winter for a two-month period, just like last year (2015/2016). It was another bout with the flu followed up with a bronchial infection. Next winter, I will try flu shots to see if that helps. This pattern of annually being sick for one-sixth of the year -- at my age (68) -- can be dangerous.

Steaming sticky rice in the early morn.

The season was a transition period, as we learned what we needed to be comfortable out at our larger of two farms.

Take our bed for instance. The first few years of my retirement, we slept upstairs at our village house (ban how) on the floor on traditional Isaan mats -- foldable squares filled with a local organic “cotton” that grows from large pods on a certain type of tree. This is stuffed inside sewn squares of fabric. The ones we slept on had been stuffed and sewn up by Thip’s mother years ago.

It was OK, but lumpy and the two sets of pads would separate (Thip’s and mine), so there would always be a low spot in between us. I finally looped the two pads together with string which helped.

Later on, we elevated our bed so we were off the floor and sleeping mostly downstairs for convenience. Still, the mats were lumpy.

This winter, we didn’t have enough mats to keep both our bed in the village and the one out at the farm, so we were forced to improve the situation. I mean, how long should one put up with an uncomfortable bed, no matter where it is? So, Thip bought two slabs of two-inch thick latex inside cotton slips. One slab went to the village house and the other one to Ban Nah (farm house). They are great; no rubber smell and very firm.

Temple pool between our farm and the government road.

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