‘Twas Christmas Day in Cambodia… The sun shone brightly overhead. Golden grass and towering palm trees danced in the strong gusts of wind. Cows mooed and baby chicks tiptoed about.
Though we were far from our family and friends who are scattered throughout the world, we yearned to have a special holiday. And indeed we did, surrounded by our new Cambodian friends, as well as an adventurous and kind couple from France.
On Christmas Morn, on a family compound in Cambodia’s Takeo Province, we learned how to thresh rice. Following the cues of our bed & breakfast owner’s cousin, we thrashed the dry bundles against a table comprised of thin wooden slats.
Golden grains flew through the air; most landed onto the ever-growing rice mountain underneath the table, whereas a few outliers found their way into our hair and clothes.
Honey-colored dogs looked on.
When finished threshing a bundle, we tossed it into a blonde pile of empty stalks. The stalks would eventually become cow feed and the mountain of rice would then be transferred to a machine through which it would be processed to remove its husk.
We heard that most families who live in Cambodia’s provinces engage in rice farming. After the December harvest, they store their rice in stilted storage rooms (away from rodents). As in many other Southeast Asian countries, rice is a staple of the diet – typically enjoyed at every daily meal and supplemented by green vegetables or fish.
It’s incredible to think that we only participated in two steps of rice growing’s 22-step process. Certainly, after our holiday threshing experience, we appreciated our fluffy servings of lunchtime and dinnertime rice even more!
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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All rights reserved.