Saturday, January 17, 2015

Summer in Lesotho

January is here, the festive season is over, and it is definitely summer.

Here in Lesotho, summer is the rainy season. We get most of our annual rainfall during the summer months. This probably brings to mind the Hollywood version of a rainy season: constant downpour, mud, and gray skies.

Hollywood has not spent much time in Lesotho though. Most mornings are bright and sunny. As the day progresses, it gets hotter as more clouds develop.  As afternoon progresses, the winds usually pick up and dark grey clouds rumble in the distance. Sometimes, this yields and wonderful, hail filled thunderstorm. Other times, it is only a tease and no rain actually falls. Yet other times, it seems to be a tease until the middle of the night when a loud thunderstorm wakes me up and has me scurrying to place basins under my leaky roof.

Morning and Maize in Lesotho
In the mornings, my usually active village is like a ghost town. Most people head to the fields just before dawn to start hoeing and weeding at dawn. Around noon, about half the villagers work their way home while the others stay at the fields and continue working. Around 4, the village supersedes its typical buzz of activity as those that returned earlier in the day are now clean, fed, and social as those who worked throughout the day are returning.Usual greetings become loud and boisterous conversations as people have been working quietly for much of the day and are eager for social interactions.
A photo break in the field

Given the heat and the lack of shade in the fields, I am amazed at how dedicated everyone is to the work in the fields right now. The time and energy spent working the fields, predominantly by hand, is astonishing. Unlike in America, where we have machines to do much of the hard work, here the people are using a simple hoe to plow, plant, weed, and eventually harvest entire maize fields. But, if they do not do this, they will either have to buy their food come winter or go hungry if they do not have the money to buy food. Thus, working the fields is not only their custom, but their only real option.

The other day, my brother was asking how big my garden in America was. He was stunned to learn I had to purchase all of my food. In rural Lesotho, that is simply not part of reality. Even those with jobs and money still plant gardens to supplement their purchased food. Regardless of the size of someone's plot of land and yard space, most of it will be covered with gardens instead of grass. The idea that people in a rich country like America would not also garden was simply beyond comprehension.

The first of many giant zucchini. 
Admittedly, my nomadic lifestyle has not been particularly conducive to gardening in the past, but I am enjoying the opportunity to do so now. While my gardening is quite reserved compared my community's efforts, I am already enjoying both cucumbers and zucchini in abundance. Thankfully the cows, pig, and goats finally stopped enjoying the garden for me!

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