Think Big Thoughts but Relish Small Pleasures

Think Big Thoughts but Relish Small Pleasures

I’ve always loved this quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Living in Thailand and being a teacher remind me to ‘Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures’ daily. For example…

Gorgeous floating flowers in pots.

Gorgeous floating flowers in pots

Seeing a pineapple plant grow

Seeing a pineapple plant grow

Accidentally happening upon a charming rooftop restaurant in Chiang Mai

Accidentally happening upon a charming rooftop restaurant in Chiang Mai

This graceful little flower known as anchan in Thai, butterfly pea in English, and scientifically as clitoria.

This graceful little flower known as anchan in Thai, butterfly pea in English, and scientifically as clitoria

Seeing the creativity of students' recycled art projects.

Witnessing the creativity of students’ recycled art projects

Hiking with this little cutie named Manee

Hiking with this little cutie named Manee

Noticing the 'Wintry' and 'Summer' settings on the hot water heater for a shower

Noticing the ‘Wintry’ and ‘Summer’ settings on the hot water heater for a shower

Having a little think by the lake

Having a little think by the lake

Finding a student's drawing of/for me

Finding a student’s drawing of/for me

Blatant copyright infringement

Hilarious and blatant copyright infringement

The exquisite mangosteen - edible art

The exquisite mangosteen – edible art

Cutting into a papaya, and finding a star.

Cutting into a papaya, and finding a star.

Students making a game out of weeding the rice

Students making a game out of weeding the rice field

Students ploughing like buffalo

Having fun ploughing like buffalo

...and playing with the plough

…and playing with the plough

The lotuses that bloom in the morning

The lotuses that bloom in the morning

The serenity of the ubiquitous Buddha images

The serenity of the ubiquitous Buddha images

Planting rice at Panyaden on Thai Mother's Day

Planting rice at Panyaden School on Thai Mother’s Day

After four years of living and teaching in Thailand, I have learned a few simple, but profound lessons:

Noticing what children and nature teach us is worthwhile. Pay attention. Be present. Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.

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Rice Farmer in a Past Life?

Rice Farmer in a Past Life?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIs it possible that I was a Thai rice farmer in a past life? There is no way to know for sure. For some reason the sight of rice fields both delight and a remind me of something from long ago. I never tire of the verdant waves in their paddies: from the young pale green stalks, to the darker and taller plants, the whole growing season is gorgeous. Even when the rice is a hay-like colour at harvest time, it’s still absolutely beautiful.

Not only do I like to look at the rice, but planting it is also a joy. Stepping in the muddy water and feeling the squishy soil between my toes is remarkably soothing. It’s slippery, messy and fun.

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About two weeks ago at Panyaden School we planted rice for Mother’s Day (August 12 – the Queen’s birthday). It will be harvested on Father’s Day (December 5 – the King’s birthday).

The process involves taking a few stalks of rice seedlings and plugging them in the mushy mud. After a while with the sun beating down, stooping over, and being covered in mud could get very uncomfortable. As for me, our hour-long planting session wasn’t nearly enough time.

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Surprisingly, way up north in Chiang Mai far away from the sea, the rice paddies make homes for fish, frogs, and even crabs. We noticed fish and tadpoles swimming, and watched a few frogs jump to safety away from our feet.

There must be something about being muddy. I have always adored ceramics, and while in Colombia, the mud volcano topped the list of attractions of the senses.

Ahh, the visually captivating rice fields of Northern Thailand fill me with reverie. Planting rice feels so natural and a perfect way to be connected with the land, the people, and the culture. I’ll stay here with my daily doses of rice field views in the place that feels like home.

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Mother’s Day Rice Planting

Mother’s Day Rice Planting

Mother’s Day in Thailand is on the Queen’s birthday – August 12. This time of year the rice fields are just being replanted. Today at school we planted rice in honor of mothers everywhere.

I see it as being symbolic of growth and nourishment – just like what a mom does for her children.

Walking to the rice field

Earthen bricks (adobe, though I don’t think they use that word here)

getting ready to plant

Rice starts

learning how to plant from Fon

What a beautiful way to say thanks mom.

This guy was much like me: we loved the mud between our toes, standing in the muddy water, and plugging in the rice. We could have planted rice for hours.

planting the paddy is almost done

Soon the field will be filled with  vibrant green. Young rice fields are so beautiful this time of year. Love to all mothers, especially mother earth.