Friday, July 31, 2015

Signs of the Season

Shakmasgogh's furry leaves have grown slowly and given flowers, so that now hillsides of rock that seemed bare are a blooming haze of purple stalks no more than a foot high.

Our boulder porch garden is aflame with poppies and flowers of many colors, and full with usu (cilantro) and dill.

The slopes to the West and North of Tar are revealed to be truly bare, as many unexpected high slopes turn green.  The great slide to the east of the village is flushed with green and purple, and its wall gives way in one valley where the walls of the peaks open.  Up this valley, the other day, a pair of wolves came straight for the herd I was minding, sitting quietly on the slope.  I heard rocks tumbling, dislodged by their descent from the mountain, then saw them, large canines, sleek and swift, reddish and gray, the one of them dark, with long muzzles.  I stood and shouted at them, and they stopped instantly.  One gave up immediately and headed across slope to the south.  The other waited, until I called again and then he too followed, leaving the herd in peace.

The umbu has given a second round of flowers from its continually growing, long leafy stalks.  It grows in the lowest areas of the rubble of the streams, and dominates where it takes hold, growing as a shrub to a height of ten feet.  The leaves smell rank, but the flowers are a delicate and lovely scent.  Its little green fruits have opened in some places, revealing seeds that are born on the wind.

Yellow, gold, or karpo "white" has come to the barley of Tar, as the plants slowly turn.

The rain, and the fear of the rain.  Flooding has hit villages, knocking out irrigation channels and even roads, weakening the foundations of houses.  The Indus has swelled nearly to the footbridge, at least six feet, and it tears by the gorge that leads up to Tar, brown and thick and strong.  Everyone agrees that this weather is strange, and didn't use to happen.  Barely and wheat are laying in the fields, still growing, still connected.  First in patches, now all of it, knocked down by wind and rain.  Roofs are dripping through, made of timbers, plant matter, and earth.  "We didn't have plastic tarps before," the villagers say.  That is unimaginable now -- everyone has them and needs them.  We're bringing a new one back from Leh today.  Everything inside would be dripped upon with water and the mud of the roofs.  "Ladakhi buildings are made of earth -- they fall down when it rains," says Sonam Tashi.  There is real fear around the rain here, and the sky continues to fill with darkened clouds and lightning.

We gave manure a third time to our gardens.  Potatoes are large and flowering.  Women give water every 3-5 days, fully flooding the fields.  The July sun is hot.

We had visitors: a young Swiss student, an English teacher working at a monastery for two months, who visited once before, met Caitlin, and came back to stay with us for a night just before she left the country.  A middle-aged college professor from LA now from Oakland, with whom we rebuilt a wall and had a lovely evening of singing, inside at our house, protected from a light rain.  A group of teenage travelers and their leaders, with whom we picnicked and pulled weeds for Ane Chomo in the morning.

And another group of young people around the age of twenty with three leaders, who stayed three nights in homestays in the village and worked with us.  Beautiful space opened with them for reflection on our experience here, and we both felt deeply heard and appreciated, as well as deeply listening to them and where they are in their lives' journeys.  One young man longs to stay in this place and says he will return for three or four months to work and learn Ladakhi here in Tar.  He should be back in a week or so, when his program ends, and I wouldn't count on it except his heart seems really strongly set.  We are so joyful to welcome such a hard-working and eloquent young person into the community.  He was concerned about being a burden, another mouth to feed, and his host mother's response to our question "He wants to stay and work" was utter nonchalance: "Tig rag," she said ("sounds good"), and went back to listening to the radio program.  "Las mangpo yod," she added, after a moment, "there's a lot of work."  He was overjoyed.  Harvest of alfalfa has begun, and we spent a day and a half harvesting barley already in Khaltse, which is lower elevation, with a daughter of the village and her family.  Harvest of Barley will start in about ten days, and the season will be full on plus many hired workers for a month and a half or two months, we figure.  If he does return his work will be much appreciated.  And we look forward so much to all we will learn in harvesting, curing, threshing, and winnowing in the next months.

This from Caitlin:

The valley changes, and changes again, every time I journey through it.  The aromatics send forth flowers, white, pink, mustard-golden.  Iskilling like lavender but more vivid in its color, tiny flowers on long stalks making a haze of indigo.  The apricots ripen; in Nurla they are ripe, and boxes line the streets in Leh.  Sun comes, hot and intense, and rain: five nights ago lightning as frequent and intense as I have ever seen it lit over the mountains for more than an hour before it opened into rain.  We had laid a bed in our garden near Abi Dolkar's house, camping in the village while the students were with us.  Returning from a late dinner, Abi met us outside.  She was distraught, fragile-looking without her goncha, head bare as I have rarely seen it.  "Where have you been?  I woke up and felt afraid," she told us.  "I've been saying prayers, made can't sleep out there!" she said to Jason.  "What if the stream rises?"  "Could it really come all the way up, into your garden?" he asked her.  "Of course it could, it takes fields, it takes people!" she insisted.  We slept inside that night, hearing the rain, the tenor of it changed by all it means in this place.

1 comment:

Adamo said...

glorious images racing in my mind. keep writing my friend.