Twilight in a Thai Village

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As part of our regular buying trips to Thailand, Duang and I immerse ourselves in the customs and communities from which the products in our store originate. We are sitting on the deck of our rented house, over the rice terraces in a mountain valley north of Chiang Mai. At 6 pm sharp, we hear an abrupt thump as a distant PA speaker fires. A beautiful recorded female voice sings an old Thai ballad, lyrics echoing over the wide valley. Duang reflexively, absently, sings along. The song is followed by the formal nasal voice of the village mayor discussing urgent local business: farmers without title to their land should bring all pertinent papers to his home tomorrow so he can take them to the district office to acquire “chanotes”, or clear ownership of their land. Also, everyone needs to help clear the debris from the creek flood of two days ago. Below, in the rice field, the rowdy working gang of 30 or more ducks are weeding. A white goose shepherds mallard duck hens into their night enclosure. A farmer's distant commands of manipulative quacking sets the goose to work. Easier to train one bossy goose than each duck. Darker now, and the bats arrive over the fading rice field.

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