Intuition, Water, and Tales from a Boy
Thinking about times past, lessons, and inspired moments and a little sun burned cheeks, few words, and a fearless countenance comes to mind. Thinking too about the importance of communities that still transfer their knowledge as a point of pride and pragmatism.
Little Lubden with the abilities to read and feel what his ancestors long were able to. Knowledge kept!!
Often (so very often) I’ve been treated to moments – or a series of moments – when the senses are engaged, the breath is smooth, and the entire self seems to be blown wide open to something significant and magnificent, and sometimes brutal. This particular series of moments were entirely about this young nomadic boy and his intuition in an ever-changing climate, and remind that some still value passing along information about the world around us. I was living with a nomadic family in southern Qinghai Province documenting how they dealt with living in a time where water and precipitation were more uncertain than ever. On this morning I joined 7-year old Lubden and his brother for their morning ’task’, which was to bring ‘water’ (ice) from a small frozen lake in pales back to the homestead.
The collection of water in any form is part of the morning ritual across the Himalayan world.
It was winter and locals had been praying for precipitation of any kind as the earth and their animals were parched that particular winter. I had listened for two weeks to such complaints and worries. At one point this little boy on this sun-blasted morning just gaped towards the east and blurted out “ka” or “snow”. Not a cloud in the sky…nothing. He repeated it a couple of times. We cut and gouged out chunks of ice from the ‘watering hole’, and marched back home. The next day, it snowed and there was joy, which was celebrated with an extra thick portion of churned butter tea that was served to all. His mother later explained to me that he had “smelled it coming”. Here at altitude, where life is lived on the brunt end of Mother Nature’s every mood, there is no disconnect from what is vital. Here, it is in the doing and witnessing; then in the understanding, where the reverence for the earth and its offerings is continued forwards. Lucky, that we still have those that remember this.
A family affair is the collection of water because it is a question of life.