Chandra, as he finally catches sight of his father's house. The pace quickened, the conversation stopped, I could feel the anticipation.

A woman in a smoky kitchen, taking a break by the door.

She is one of three working here to make Rakshi this morning. Rakshi is the local alchoholic drink, made from distilled millet wine. In Nepali kitchens, cooking is done with a wood fire, and there is never a chimney. When something large is cooking, like a vat of rakshi, the room fills with smoke.

Two nights before we arrived in Kapilakot, Chandra's younger sister had her first child, a beautiful little girl who was still awaiting a name.

The birth highlighted the complexity of village life. Everyone came by to visit and pay respects. It is traditional to offer the family a piece of cloth or a little money when first seeing a new baby, and many people stopped by. The mother was giving birth at home, but had a difficult pregnancy. The nearest clinic is a four hour walk, so a group of men were recruited to carry her that distance (while she was in labor). Everything worked out well, and now mother and baby were back in the village.

We finally arrive at Kapilakot-Ratmata-Marin. I am the first foreigner to ever come here, and I suspect it will be a while before another comes. In our hike we passed scores of other villages, and could have stopped at any of them. My digital camera was quite the hit, especially when I turned the screen around so that people could see themselves getting their picture taken.

Every so often in the riverbed are little thatch huts housing water powered grinding wheels. They are communal property and well maintained.

Instead of a rolling wheel crushing the grain, a smaller, rough wheel spins horzontally over another similarly sized one. The top wheel has a hole in the center where grain is fed in from a hopper, and the ground meal comes out the side from between the two stones. This particular hut had two grinding wheels, one was grinding corn, the other rice. One family was grinding meal and enjoying the nice weather while the water did their work.

A family planting corn in their small plot of land.

Oxen pull the wooden ploughs to break up the dry soil. Fathers hold the ploughs down and guide the oxen with spoken commands and small taps with their sticks, "Left!" "Right!" "Stop!" "Go!" A mother and a son walk behind dropping seeds in the new furrows. Stretching behind them are other families' plots, fading to the horizon in the light morning fog, waiting for other days to plant.

In front of a small roadside cafe next to a military checkpoint somewhere in the Terai (the lowlands in the south of Nepal), the proprietor stands in front of her god-stone. Embedded in the dusty ground of the parking area where busses come and go all day, with hundreds of feet trampling by, this stone sits clean and red, a sign of God's still presence amidst the bustle, though a sign that is small and easily missed.

Spring has come to the Terai.

I had forgotten
how beautiful 
the forest in the spring.

Leaves sprouting bright spring green,
reflecting the low-slung sun,
like Christmas lights
stretching to infinity

Like pixie dust
sprinkled on a sleeping landscape

Tenzin is the first of the Tsering Lama's grandchildren, and is being raised by his grandmother. He is three years old, but was born with developmental difficulties so that he cannot walk or talk or even crawl.

I was playing with Tenzin this morning in the sun on the balcony, making funny movements with my hands to get him to smile. He has such a great smile. He smiles with his whole body.

"The bodhisattva vow is like a golden pot, the others like earthen pots. When an ordinary committment or earthen pot is broken, it has no more value; however, the bodhisattva vow, like a golden pot, can be remodeled and refashioned-its material remains precious."

-Kaul Ripoche (in Luminous Mind, p. 129)