Boom! The silence of the pleasant lunch we were having in our new friends' backyard is disturbed by the sound of an explosion. Then another and another.
Our friend, Na, from Washington, connected us with friends of her's here in Chiang Mai. They pick us up at the Marorot Market next to the Ping River, surrounded by songtauews of various colors, motorcycles and other endless traffic. We are transported from that to their home; a place on 2/3s of an acre, or two rai, of land adjacent to a rice field. We spend the day sitting in their backyard.
Pi Yi took us away from the tumult of the city to her lovely home in the country. This is my fifth trip to Thailand and never have I had the peace and quiet and beauty that I have seen today. There are two homes here, actually, as two families share the land. We were welcomed into both homes with a pair of sandals to wander the property and a lovely lunch of noodles and vegetables. They are vegetarian so our meat was made of mushrooms and quite delicious.
We tour the two houses and then the yard. Back there we see coconuts, betelnuts, mulberry, orchids, euphorbias, and a variety of plants only seen in the tropics or the inside of a greenhouse. Behind this is a two story platform with a metal staircase, leading us up and above the fields behind them. We are in the area north of Chiang Mai, where the temperatures are cooler and the breeze is calming. The platform overlooks several acres of young rice plants sitting in their water. Beyond, about a mile away, are Wats, Buddhist temples.
Boom! Boom! I hear what sounds like cannons going off. Pi Yi says these are fireworks being set off at the temple. Fireworks in the middle of the day! I get excited only to be told the purpose is part of the funeral taking place at the temple. Fireworks are used at both weddings and funerals, apparently. Suddenly several series of fireworks went off and then a sudden burst of black smoke. This, I was told, is the cremation.
I sat the rest of the afternoon, watching the rice field, listening to the birds and the slight breeze, thinking what a peaceful way to be. I thought of my mother, who passed away this day five years ago. She was always open to new experiences. She had never left the US until her boyfriend retired and decided to take her on cruises around the world. In her 70s they were wandering the tombs of Egypt, the ruins of Turkey and walking the Great Wall of China. She always had a sense of wonder, even as she reached her end from cancer. I wondered. Would she want fireworks? I know I would.