May 9, 2016

On Growing Rice

We just returned from Arizona and are now at home in Oregon. Our trip this year took us through the center of California where much of the produce we find on our tables is grown. Rice is one of those crops that somehow seems out of place and yet there it is.

Growing rice really is a mystery to me. The rice that is grown in water to hold the stalks up (I am told) and is planted April. In the Yangtze Valley of China where the crop is harvested in October, the streets and highways are used to dry the harvest. Even in the middle of the villages rice is spread in the middle of the streets by the "people" to dry. It is not called the People's Republic of China without reason.

For those of us that have driven through California where large processing plants take care of the drying rice and machines plant that same rice in flooded paddies, it was a surprise when we come to a very wide road that cannot be driven on this week because the "people" are drying their rice crops. Really!

Canal very near the road with rice drying...water was everywhere.
Shanghai is very near sea level so there are canals everywhere and people live on the banks, grow crops in the borrow pits along side the road that are raised using the soils taken from the pits. The pits also fill with water. Is it understandable that a crop like rice would be a perfect one for the region. 

The natural order of thing was foreign to us too. The "people" were totally in control of the roads in these small villages and would not even acknowledge the cars at all. It takes a certain amount of getting used to and patience. 

I saw children playing in the areas between freeway off ramps in Beijing. Parents kept watch but open ground was at an a premium and the "people" do not hesitate to use what was going to waste. 

The infrastructure in the rural areas was not perfect and people keep warm using charcoal. A single light bulb that lights the center of the house might be a luxury for all I know. Children live in layers of quilting in the winter and resemble balls with legs. Their pants have a slit in the crotch so they can squat to go to the bathroom when the notion strikes them. Nothing is so private that a child cannot go potty anywhere.

Growing rice was the symbol for what I didn't understand totally. There was much to be learned and not nearly enough time. We were there last in 2011. China was growing up at that time but the simplicity for those living outside the cities was still very much on parade. I wonder what I would find now?

Rice being dried in the center of the village.

Broom hanging in a horsestall is hand made. The broom the man above is using is very similar.
I love travel so much. It seems that the experience follow me home. And I love to talk about it...not because anyone is interested but because it brings back such good memories.

Thank you for reading.


PS: The pictures are my own. If you would like to use them just let me know.


DJan said...

I love stories about your travels. I wonder how the rice gets from the road into the cooking pots, though. How much dirt goes along with it? :-)

Marty said...

I lived in the San Joaquin Valley for nearly 13 years and had no idea I had rice growing near me. I apparently had to move away to learn this. Great post, very informative. It must have been amazing to visit China. - Marty

retirementreflections said...

Hi Barbara - Great post! We lived in Beijing, China for fourteen years. For many of those years, corn was dried on the main road outside of our house. It was amazing but traffic just drove around it! Your rice photos filled me with a bit of nostalgia for China. Thanks for sharing.

Tom Sightings said...

Interesting. I didn't know that they grow rice in Calif., and I didn't know that anyone dries their rice on the roadway.

Barbara Torris said...

I think the throw it in the air so the chaff is blown away. I also have pictures of them bagging the rice. The people would wash the rice before cooking it. I even do that with my rice here at home. Just a habit I suppose.

Barbara Torris said...

Yes, it is one of my favorite destinations. Once we learned our way around the public transportation we saw a lot more than we thought possible. Our son and his family lived there for 8 years.

The rice fields seem to be dry this year...maybe they will not plant because of the shortage of water. I am only speculating though...who knows?

Barbara Torris said...

I think the China we knew in Shanghai 10 years ago is about gone. The antique market was raised for apartments. Dong Tha
i Lu was one of our favorite stops.

Barbara Torris said...

Well, California like China is a very amazing place. I see something I didn't notice before every time we travel though it.

As for China...there really is no knowing that huge country. Just seeing a small corner was not easy. I could go back over and over.

Cathy Lawdanski said...

I did not know about how they dried rice. Interesting information!

LauraEhlers said...

Amazing! Sharing your stories is a wonderful way to relive your trips but it also opens up the world for those who haven't traveled as widely. Thanks for sharing!

Barbara Torris said...

Well, this is the way they dry rice in china. Here in the states drying rice requires buildings, electricity and a lot more we don't see. The simplicity of the way they do things in the Far East took me back to a time when such things simply did not exist.

Barbara Torris said...

The beauty of this experience is that if you wanted to do it, it could be done with just a little help. Hotels are an amazing source of information and assistance.

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