Fargreen Journal Corner: Dance with Mr. Weather

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By: Trang Tran

When I was growing up, there was no refrigerator in the home. My parents at the time were running a small food stand in the local market selling fresh homemade foods. 90% of all the current news that I consumed daily was about the weather. My usual alarm featured the voice of the weather lady from dad’s war-time radio with her usual monologue tone “cloudy day in Northern area, scattered rain in the Central and South...”. At dinnertime, her voice was like the background music which was so precious that my mom banned everyone from switching channel while she talked.

After the news, my mom often looked up to the sky to find the moon, feel the wind then decided on what she would cook for the next day to bring to the market. The logic went like this: if it’s a hot and not rainy day, her customers would prefer more of something refreshing like cool desserts so she would soak more beans overnight. If a cold wind was about to come over the next few days, many would lean toward her hot baguettes with homemade pate so she would order more pork from Ms. Hong, her local pork supplier. It’s always a decision that I saw my mom had to wrack her brain so hard everyday to make because we wanted to make more money by selling more foods but had to minimize leftover because it would mean waste of money as we had to throw them away. I still remember my mom kept telling me that her wish for me was to study well so that I could get a stable paid office job and my life wouldn’t have to be so hard and dependent on the weather like her and dad.

Life did not go as planned as it always did. Somehow I fell in love with agriculture, nature and the environment. No one forced me to step in and it wasn’t because I was constrained by the few options of occupation. It was the total opposite. I consciously chose to do it, chose to love it and chose to commit my life to it. Even though living in the modern world, in a country that striving toward industrialization for a better living standard, I found myself going “backward” and worse, I also got other friends at home involved in this “backward” movement of going back to nature and the natural way of doing things with me.

Now I am just like my parents back then: producing foods seasonally, selling what’s on hand and getting lost in the dance with Mr. Weather. My heart now sings whenever “he” is cool and stable and sinks when “he” is acting crazy. It’s the emotional roller coaster that my parents kept warning me long before but somehow I just couldn’t learn. I’ve tried to bring new technologies in the work that I’m doing but just to help me learn about “him” better so I could dance better, not to put myself in a comfort box and live independently of “him”. Still, I’ve kept stumbling many times, again and again. But every time I fell, I became more empathetic with his irrational behaviors and I wanted to help him more. Hopefully one day not too far in the future, the dance will be smooth as “he” will be more stable as he should be.

P.s. Writing as the weather gets cooler and more pleasant for my mushrooms.