Simple life by the river: chickens and youngster’s rockets for Market Friday.

July signals the beginning of rainy season in Thailand. Every season has its own local festival and celebration. For people living by the river, Buddhist Lent day would mean lively processions of home made rockets to be lit in paying respect to the guardians of the river, the legendary river snakes or Nagas. Villagers believe that the higher the rockets could reach high up in the sky, the Nagas would grant favourable weather conditions so that rice fields would be richly harvested. In some big provinces, competitions during local rocket festival could raise lots of money because people would gamble on the winner rockets. But the last two years, all festivals were forbidden and no rockets competition was allowed.

This season, I have seen small rockets on sale by vendors on wheels who travelled around villages selling all sizes of rockets to children and youngster. These look a bit like fireworks but they just do not split into beautiful or colourful lights in the sky. They are mini rockets which are quite dangerous as they could explode too quickly on the ground. One evening I noticed a group of youngsters on their bikes heading towards the riverfront. Some were very excited about their meeting place so I decided to follow them at a safe distance.

I observed them at a distance and took some photos which didn’t turn out so clear. The evening sunlight wasn’t strong enough for my old iPhone. Everyone was very jolly at the launching of their home made rockets. The older youngsters told the smaller friend to light the rocket with simple match! In the past when we played around with small firework, we would use a long incense to light up the fuse of the firework so we would have quite a distance from the firework.

But these people just put their fingers right by the fuse of the rockets! Had something gone wrong or the rocket had exploded premature, the fingers could have been blown off to bits. So, while the chosen boy was lighting up the rocket, the rest stay at least five meters away. There was suspense in the air, perhaps they also gamble on the result of the different rockets. The first rocket didn’t light up properly as the youngster was too afraid to put the match at the fuse for too long. So, the second time he had to make sure the cotton string got lit up properly. He jumped away from the rocket launcher as fast as he could while others looked up to the sky to see how higher the rocket could go. The first rocket was a flop as it didn’t shoot straight into the sky. There were noises of dismay and disapproving words among the youngsters.

The second rocket went higher but still quite disappointing for the whole group. Then the third rocket was the best of all; it went straight up with very loud noise and white pluming tail. All faces were staring at the sky gasping at that wonderful rocket. I was quite impressed with the third rocket which went so high up that it disappeared out of sight. The youngsters laughed and smiled in delight and satisfaction. Then they went on their bikes to get back home with a triumphant mood.

The following evening I saw some youngsters coming back to inspect the home made launching pad mad from bamboo. It seemed they had been launching their rockets much earlier in July though I thought it was forbidden to launch your own rockets without local authority’s permission. It’s difficult to stop curious youngsters from having simple fun by the river far away from people’s houses. I was quite tempted to try launching my own rockets. But I had no idea where to buy some home made rockets and I had to find a flexible person to light up the fuses for me. Standard fireworks seemed much safer than these home made rockets. I wouldn’t mind setting off fireworks by myself but these are much more expensive than locally made rockets.

The local river guardians must have been very pleased with these successful rockets! The rain has been pouring down heavily almost everyday. All rice fields have been soaked with extra rain water. The river has risen by five meters in one month, so had too much rainfall in one week. This made it difficult for me to plan my walk by the river as the heavy dark clouds threatened to pour down at any minute. Riding bicycle was getting too slippery and dangerous on the dirt road especially around the corners or by the curves. My bicycle did skid once but I was able to control the bicycle; that was a lucky escape.

Two villagers’ families actually have their house by the river as they operate the fish farming on the river. They have to feed the fish in the nets everyday and be responsive to currents which would move their fishing nets and robes. I used to envy them for having the river on their door step and exclusive sunset scenery in the evening. One family has so many chickens which made me wonder how they would know if some chickens got stolen. These chickens just roam freely along the river; they are not living in cages. So, the owners couldn’t possibly do an inventory of all the older and new chickens.

There is also some stray dogs running up and down the riverfront. If some of these dogs just steal a few small chickens, no one would have noticed as the owners are always busy on the river. I passed by this hut several times without seeing anybody looking after the place. It’s quite interesting to see the pecking order among these chickens. There’s a black villain who kept knocking and kicking at other smaller chickens. This black one was very possessive of his tribe. I hope that if any of the chickens went missing, the owners wouldn’t think I took some of them with me. I was hanging around the chickens several times just watching their weird behaviours.

It was nice to cycle slowly along the river. I could explore more distance and new places along the river. Usually my walk wouldn’t be very far as after the sunset, the surroundings would become quite dark. I didn’t want to get in the way of any snakes on my way back to the farmhouse. Having a bicycle made a lot of difference; I could time myself and go much farther to the other side of the village on the north side of the river. There are some nice restaurants and big houses along that narrow alley.

My cherished moments by the river are during sunset in late afternoon. The moods of the river are constantly changing so I have to be receptive to new vibes and hidden messages from Mother Nature. The calmness of the flowing river lulled my mind into relaxation and stillness. The green surroundings and fresh air are nourishments for my mind and body. I am always very grateful to Mother Nature and all the blessings of simple life by the river.

Wishing you peace, good health and prosperity.

Stay strong and cheerful.

#marketfriday by @dswigle

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