Age, Imports, Trails & Dogs...

Inevitably, my frequent morning walks to the dam, fill me with a quiet composure and contentment that lingers throughout the day.  To be surpassed only by the joyous exaltation of my four legged companions who explode in dance and song at the mere suggestion of my intentions.  Even the blistering heat of the morning sun, on these recently clear days, could not dampen their spirits, though I confess it slows my pace a bit.  The brown leafless days of the past are but a memory as the forest trees sprout new plumage.  One sometimes forgets that many forrest trees produce, not only leaves of green, but flowers as well.  Some strike you with their brilliance of color while others are shy and subdued in their presentation and would easily evade a cursory glance.  This year the fruit bearing trees put forth the promise of a bountiful harvest.  While not all is lush and green, and will not be for some time to come, there is once again beauty to behold upon the trail.  I even glimpsed a brilliant, deep blue stranger to these eyes, as it flew from tree to tree, proudly displaying the full extent of its colorful form.

While often clearing the cobwebs from my mind, on occasion I find myself in deep contemplation as I proceed down the trail.  Today I found that I was lamenting the role that age plays in this paradise that I live in.  It is not just that I find the resident farangs, to be for the most part, so very old.  Village life itself is devoid of whole generations for most of the year.  Just as in small hamlets and villages around the world, the young lust for a city life, departing at the first opportunity.  Their leaving behind the very young to be cared for by the very old, I fear damages the very fiber of the community.  Children are often cared for by those who are least well equipped to do so.  Sometimes illiterate and clinging to superstitions and practices from a bygone era, their best efforts are often not enough to prepare their grandchildren for the modern world.

I was not so very different, in that I shunned this village life until after I passed the half century mark.  Even so, I am young in comparison to many a farang, who usually had to wait for the maturing of children, jettisoning of the ex, retirement and the late-life discovery of Thai girls.  I lament that village life bears no resemblance to the vibrancy of the city and the limitless representation of age groups and lifestyles.  The city itself, however, I do not miss.   

While I have come across some individuals of interest, many including the Thais I’ve met, are just passing through.  They often live elsewhere and are what I refer to as temporary imports.  Friends from overseas or brought up from Bangkok, or thereabouts, with a mutual payoff in mind.  One escapes the turmoil of the city, if only briefly, while the other enjoys a level of discussion and banter not to be found locally.  We are finding it difficult to extricate some of our city friends from their entrenched routines but remain hopeful that they will relent during the cool season.  It is possible to benefit from others who have the same idea, at times.  One Thai neighbor who visits often with his local girlfriend has brought in friends to see his new house.  I stumbled into their midst one day and enjoyed the trip down memory lane as they quizzed my knowledge of their world.  They being a good ten years younger than I, had nonetheless been present in many of the same environs.  They brought back memories of a time a place almost forgotten and impossible to share with others who inhabit the village.

By way of explanation, my Thai village neighbor from Bangkok, is an outgoing and gregarious sort.  His close friends were an interesting and diverse group.  One studious fellow, with his horn-rimmed glasses, had his nose buried in the newspaper and only spoke in his rich baritone to deflect the chiding of his more verbose companions.  The other less talkative friend was cut from the mold of the strong silent type.  He had ridden up from the central plains on a new BMW 1200 and had a quiet self-confidence that speaks volumes, without speaking at all.  The obvious leader of this boisterous pack sat me down and proceeded to interrogate me in the most disarming manner.  Done clumsily this kind of thing leaves me looking for the exit but done well, as on that day, is the equivalent of a verbal dance.

So there are ways to fill the voids in age and intellect that permeate village life.  Simply import friends from Bangkok or overseas, and to fill the time between visits, there is always Skype and email.  Not insignificantly a blog can play its part as well.  In a way this all suits me and my nature.  Though some will assume a loner to be a social misfit, we are often far from socially inept.  To the extent that joining groups is seen as a limiting thing.  Confining one to a hunting range of restricted proportions.  The lone wolf is a more flexible creature and often ranges far and wide unlike those who join the pack and must abide by its rules and remain within its territory.  Of course, when all else falls short of the mark, there is no substitute for a loyal and trustworthy, canine companion and a long walk to the dam.