Friday, April 29, 2005

memories of banaue - continued

Life continued as it always did in those mountains. We marked the passing of time by the changing of color in the ricefields. After the harvest, the fields lay fallow and brown, waiting for the knowing hands of the women who came with their baskets of young green seedlings.

We learned to plant rice. I remember warm, dark clay squishing through my toes, the smell of wet slush, the green seedling in my hand and reaching down to plant it deep into the warm moistness where it would grow into one tall stalk of rice, waving its green frond under the summer sun. We waited as the mountains were transformed from a brown and empty landscape into tier upon tier of waving green young rice, not yet ripe for harvest but almost there.

When the mountains turned golden, the harvesters ventured out into the fields.

These rituals are the ones that my mind insists on remembering. Afternoons of games behind the hospital, the feel of thick carabao grass under my bare feet, the shouts and the laughter that echoed through the afternoon, while the young men and the young women flirted with each other in the ageless dance of pounding rice. Mortar and pestle, rice and chaff, sieve and pot, wood and fire and the shadows that are the faces of those whose names I can no longer recall.


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