2 October 2008

Letter 3.52

Contemplating a clearing around the hut which was slowly growing back to the jungle, I glanced at my thumb and noticed it was turning green (Ein Gedi disease?); in jig time I had it cut back, transplanted a few jungle flowers and plants, and put in some flower and vegetable seeds. The seeds are from Bangkok -- so far, of the flowers, only the azaleas have even sprouted, nothing at all heard from the zinnia, phlox, pansy, or sunflower. There's not much available in the way of flower seed, and what is available seems, mostly, dead. Of the vegetables, the plum tomatos are promising, and there's hope for the carrot. The cauliflower sprouted up quickly, but is now threatening to die, as most of the onions have. The eggplant may be a slow starter -- it's just beginning to show -- as are a few of the regular tomatos. The corn is coming up like nobody's business, just the way the watermelon and honeydew began, but the melons seem to be going, now, the way of the onions. The squash seeds are trying hard; in 3 or 4 months I may get a few squash. And that's the whole garden. Some sees remains for a second try, and I'll probably see if I can't find some beans and things when next I go to Bangkok, which will be in a few weeks to apply for a new visa.

In season now are mangos, which I love, messy as they are to eat. Some pineapples, but very few bananas in this area, for some reason. There are several fruits I've not seen before and don't know the name of: a fruit with a thick purple skin (inedible) and a sweet juicy white interior of segments; a fruit like a lychee nut but with a red/green bristly skin, juicy translucent meat around a single seed; a small brown fruit with orange custardy pulp around two longish seeds, like a miniature zapote, a Guatemalan fruit, but better. Durian, called the 'king of fruits' -- I know someone who should be named Durian -- but which is a bit strong for my taste: as a flavoring it's not bad, but by itself it's rich in oil, very odorous (cheesy -- like, perhaps, limburger), and overwhelming in flavor. It can be smelled a block away. Some people are fanatics about them.

On a clear day (it's been raining much of the time lately), I like to climb to the top of the hill in back of the wat) where I can see the roads and fields, and, about a mile away, the Gulf of Siam, with some small islands looming darkly above the haze which rests on the water. There are hundreds, or thousands, of islands in the Gulf. The coastline is under heavy guard these days, both to prevent the 'boat-people' from landing (stories circulate of the coastguard deliberately sinking boats and letting the boat-people drown) and to try (with little likelihood of success) to capture the pirate boats which have come to the coast to prey on the boat-people (mostly middle-class/upper-class ethnic Chinese who would rather flee Vietnam than go to work on the new collective farms -- a desperate choice).

1 comment:

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