Showing posts with label Walking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walking. Show all posts

Fishing ...

In my youth fishing was a magical thing.  A rite of passage, filled with secrets and rituals, passed down and presided over by a mentor or two.  On one side of the family an uncle and on the other side a farmhand, more family than employee.  With his wife and brother he spent most of his adult life living and working on my grandfather’s dairy farm. 

The hook, baited with an earthworm, was cast into the pond.  Sitting on the shore, trying to remain still and silent, as the thrill of anticipation washed over one.  The senses extending from fingers, to pole, to line, to the little red and white ball, bobbing gently on the surface of the water.  The mind reaching down into the depths, willing an as yet unseen fish, to strike at the bait.  With the innocence of youth I knew nothing of fishing as an industry or occupation.  I knew only of that pond and what I could see and feel.

Fishing in the village takes on a myriad of forms.  Various scoops and nets and traps are used in fields, canals, streams, ponds, reservoirs, and the occasional flood.  Only seldom have I seen it in the solitary form, as it is more often a social undertaking.  Anything from a few friends, to a whole village, participating in an annual event at a local catchment area. 

The last two years, the fishing rights to our local reservoir have been auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Begging the question, how long before the stocks are depleted?  Fishermen come from far and wide, paying a nominal fee to cast a line into the waters.  Many pay for several poles and line them up in ridged formation, like little toy soldiers standing at attention.  Others prefer casting nets or setting lines from a boat, far from the shore.

Though human nature bids us do it, looking into another’s eyes in search of their motivations or even their soul, is a futile endeavor.  Yet as I looked into the faces, of those I found fishing at the reservoir the other day, huddled beneath umbrellas sheltering from the sun, I couldn’t help but wonder.  Was there any joy or awe in what they did?  Where did their thoughts travel to?  Were they escaping some other tedium of existence?  Perhaps it is as simple, as something one does at this time of year.  It certainly couldn’t be called sport fishing and there is no “catch and release.”  Even the most diminutive of fish does not escape the frying pan.  Often a days labor would provide enough money to purchase the same number of fish with a fair amount of change left to jingle in ones pocket.  So it would seem that they are not fishing from necessity. 

In the end my mental gymnastics were all for naught, as I went on about my walk and they took no notice of my leaving.

Thoreau’s Walden Pond

Jon said:
“...your thoughts gave me flashbacks to Thoreau's Walden Pond writings...”

Sadly, I am not “Thoreau” and for whatever reason, I have not been a great reader of the classics. Perhaps it has to do with my focus on living life as opposed to reading about it. Perhaps the educational system was going through some turmoil, during my time, and said works were neglected. Somehow I have had an awareness of works such as Thoreau’s. Sadly though, never have I visited his pages. So, anyway Jon, you got me thinking.

How could I best continue pursuing my own life and yet have time to visit Walden Pond? I was reminded of an uncle, who listens to educational tapes from time to time. Perhaps my modern toys could be adapted to more learned pursuits. A Google here, a download there, and my iPod library now possesses an audio version of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. There is something magical about walking through my own fields and forest trails, accompanied by my canine companions, while listening to an oral rendition of Thoreau’s work. Presently I am on chapter nine so will reserver further comment until I have digested the fullness of Walden.

So often people allow their toys and gadgets to rule their lives. When with a modicum of thought and planning, they can be put to use as they were meant to be. To expand our horizons and simplify menial tasks. At the same time it has become abundantly clear over the last year, that with each new possession, one surrenders a little bit more of one’s freedom. There are costs to all “things” that go well beyond what is expressed in the barcode. The security, protection, maintenance and storage of our “things” begins to bracket our lives and often affects what we do, when and for how long. This is especially true when some of our “things” are living, breathing creatures that we care deeply about.

Having lived the majority of my years with few if any encumbrances, I am simply acknowledging the divergence between my present and past lives. There are no regrets. No time waisted, wishing things were the way they used to be. No resentment that Cookie or the House or any number of things, now occupy a sizable portion of my time. For all these things have been of my own choosing and not forced upon me by circumstances or other people. There was adequate forethought as to the consequences of my moves, actions and purchases.

Just yesterday, an old friend asked if I didn’t perhaps “...ever miss playing a day's worth of squash in "the big city" the way you used to?”. To which my reply was “never”. One strives to live in the present. To enjoy and absorb every moment, without greedily clinging to the past or fearing the unfolding of tomorrow. Having previously made clear my belief that this is all there is, it would seem foolish to waist time on any pursuit other than relishing every moment of existence. The past is gone and the end will come soon enough.

Seasons ... (taking the bad with the good)...

By far my favorite time of year, for photography, is the rainy season. Frequent thunderstorms cleanse and refresh the color pallet. From field to forest, green is on display in every imaginable hue. The sky is bluer and the clouds, billowing or feathered, create a dramatic background for landscapes or sunsets. No need to water the plants as everything grows profusely. That of course includes the weeds and other nuisance plants you don’t want in your garden. The abundance of the forest is on the menu at this time of year. Mushrooms are plentiful as are edible bugs and the just plain annoying ones.

As the flora flourishes in the wet, it can be annoying that the clothes take days and days to dry. The humidity is unrelenting and temperatures drop but slightly beneath the overcast skies. Low lying trails become impassable on the bike and the already rough roads are transformed into minefields with massive holes. The truck is never clean for more than a few hours at a time. Feet and paws, are wet and muddy, making it all but impossible to keep floors spotless.

Winter brings the occasionally chilly nights and foggy mornings. In general, the weather is quite pleasant this time of year. With the cool weather, however, comes the burning season and the blue skies are soon replaced by grays and browns. Landscape shots are dull and lifeless with limited visibility and muted colors. The trails are once again passable and exercise is a more pleasant with less perspiration yet more labored breathing due to the smoke. Again there is a tradeoff between cooler temperature and smoke filled air.

The barren fields are now roamed freely by cows and hunted by birds of prey. Our dogs are often spotted far off in the distance. They are drawn to the remaining mounds of straw, playing “king of the mountain” and hunting for mice or anything that moves. They even try their hand at a little cow herding or bird hunting but to little avail. One of our dogs has an obsession with changing his hair color and loves to roll in the ash of recently burned straw. He has also been known to change his scent, with what I suspect to be pig excrement.

Soon enough the stifling heat will return and all greens will fade to brown. As the ground hardens one can ride a bike almost anywhere, with only heat and stamina as limiting factors. With the heat comes the Thai New Year and a more sociable time of year. Scattered family members return home as employers allow for longer holidays. 

Unfortunately, it is also the dying season as road fatalities soar from a deadly mix of alcohol and the revelry of Songkran. The resulting funerals add to the social nature of this time of year, as families gather again, for all the resulting rituals and ceremonies. Almost as a balance to the dying, there seems to be a bounty of weddings and births. The ebb and flow of life in the village, is a reminder of our own mortality and the limited time we have on this planet.

So there is good and bad to be found in the seasons or in life for that matter. Just depends on how you look at things. In reality there is never just one perspective. There are those who are limited in there ability to “see” the world in which they live but that fortunately has no effect on the world at large, only their small place in it.

One reader very kindly commented that he might learn something from reading my blog. My hope would be that readers become more introspective and attuned to their own inner voice that is so often overwhelmed by the din of modernity. Whatever you do, don’t follow another’s path. Blaze your own trail and take pride in your successes and learn from your failures.

Dog, Fog, and House ...

Previously I wrote in, Puppy Love, about my hopes for the future of our yellow lab mix. He is now 9 months old and doing exceedingly well. We chose to move him to the new house in the late evening and fed him here with the other two dogs. For familiarity his cage and bed were brought along and placed in the living room but have since been moved into a spare room off the kitchen. The first night he didn’t mind being locked in his cage. It may have provided some security in a strange environment. The next night he got upset in the middle of the night, thus the move to another room where he could be allowed to move around and change positions without getting into trouble for sleeping on the furniture.

We braced ourselves for the possibility of altercations with neighboring dogs, but to our surprise and relief they have all gotten along quite well. We have gone from a secure walled-in yard to an open area surrounded by rice fields. If I didn’t know better I could imagine that being the resident pack of the biggest and most eccentric house in the area has afforded our dogs an elevated status among the local thugs and bullies.  All three of our male dogs are behaving differently these days and strutting their stuff with a relaxed air of self confidence.

With the success of the move I decided to try, leash free, hiking to the dam. The youngster isn’t as strong as his uncles but makes a valiant effort to keep up. The one dog is an elegant leaper with some very stylish moves. The puppy has tried on occasion to follow his lead up a steep hill or high ledge, to find himself falling in a heap at the base of the embankment. Embarrassing for sure but no damage done.

Without the hindrance of a leash we are all getting a much better workout on our frequent constitutionals. With the foggy, morning temperatures in the fifties these days, the nearly 5 mile round trip jaunt to the dam, is quite pleasant. The locals are no longer shocked when we pop out of the mist on their way to the fields and orchards. We are heading home from the dam, flush from our exertion and enjoyment. No telling how long this weather will last so I’m determined to get out every morning, if possible. After the stress and preoccupation of building the house this aging frame is in dire need of a regular exercise regimen.

As for the house, it has far exceeded what I allowed myself to hope for. After grinding coffee beans and steeping them in the French press, I sit at the table these mornings, savoring this addicting brew. I take in the views of the fields and mountains beyond and count myself among the fortunate few to be living a dream.


We have run into a bit of weather. It rained all night last night and most of yesterday and it has been threatening all day today. It means it is too wet to work right now. It might workout to the benefit of the landscaper who is coming out to plant turf on the slope by the pond. To keep erosion to a minimum this year we have decided to landscape all the sloping areas. If it doesn’t rain anymore today the ground will be just perfect for planting.

Yesterday, while inspecting the site work, the contractor showed up with his whole family so we spent a fare amount of time visiting and getting closer with the family, as well as discussing various aspects of the work. After they left my wife and I decided it had been a long time since we had made the 45 minute (one-way) walk to the dam. It was heavily overcast and we knew it would rain but we went ahead anyway.

She carried a big umbrella while I made do with my wide-brimmed hat and off we went as it began to sprinkle. Before we got to the dam it was poring down rain but it was beautifully quiet and peaceful and the clouds hung low to the mountains which was more reminiscent of our hikes in Hawaii. Believe me it was very romantic and we lost all sense of time on our little walk.

Recently we have been riding our bikes more because you can cover more ground and see more varied landscape. But there is nothing quite like going on long walks with my wife.  Whether on day-hikes in the many National Parks we have visited in the United States, on evening strolls around Diamond Head with a Waikiki sunset to top it off, or walking the fields and trails around the village, it is all good.

It is real quality time when we can talk about things undistracted by the normal goings on of life. We feel closer and more connected to each-other on our walks. It’s just us and nature. Yeah, I know, it sounds kind of sappy. But, what can I say? After 10 years, I’m still in love with my wife. I know there is probably a scientific explanation dealing with the right mix of exercise, endorphins, hormones and pheromones but I chose, in this case, to be the romantic and just call it “Love”.

I’m sure that is not what the locals called it, however, when they passed us walking in the rain. They had been caught out in the forest and fields and were rushing back on their bicycles, motorcycles and makeshift tractors. They were heading for shelter like any sane person would be doing. Being the friendly sorts that they are, they offered us rides even when they didn’t have room. I couldn’t be certain how much of their expression was surprise and how much was relief, that we preferred to get wet and walk the rest of the way home. I’m sure they will just chalk it up as another of my Farang eccentricities.

I almost forgot. We were chaperoned by our dogs, who if anything, had more fun than we did. Of course by the time we got home they were unrecognizable, being covered in mud and ash and who knows what, from their adventures off trail. For me it was just, one more perfect day...