Thursday, August 30, 2007

Monsoon season

This is a beautiful time of the year. I can't believe that after eleven years in Lao that I can still get so excited by the beauty of rice fields - but every day, it's like waking up fresh to the world.
Unfortunately, we feel climate change here. When I first moved here in 1996, the month of August was agony - rain all the time towards the end of the monsoon. My road was ankle deep in mud and I couldn't go anywhere without getting soaking wet. And nothing ever dried.
For the past few years, the rain might start really early before stopping in northern Lao. These past two weeks, it's been hot during the day with a thunderstorm every other day which threatens to tear up the rice plants from the field.
Paddy rice was cultivated in water because it keeps the pests down and has higher yield than rice planted on the hillsides in the mountains. With the water low, the worms and other bugs can get at the roots of the plants, decreasing the yield. If it floods, the rice plants can't survive if they are submerged for more than a day.
The life of a rice farmer is difficult at best, even without the new extremes in weather.

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