Sunday, July 18, 2010

burning fields

when we got out of the hospital at Xintian, where we had taken baby T to be treated for bronchitis, most of the rice fields in Yuanli where my in-laws live had been harvested. instead of bowing heads of grain rustling in gold-green fields, there were clumps of stalks shorn near the earth. everything was dried out, and a pleasant hay-like smell hung in the air. but some of the farmers still burn the fields after harvest, an old practice meant to fertilize it for the next planting. this burning hangs over the landscape and penetrates the nose.

i had not paid it much mind before, but with T recovering from a severe cough and me and my in-laws all developing new coughs, i realized the practice was making our conditions a lot worse. the government is pushing people to curtail or end the practice of burning spirit money, either at temples or in front of residences, because of its harm to air quality. i thought, field burning may be even worse. my wife's cousin told me it has been legally banned, but there is no enforcement. however, one can call the local district representative (lizhang) to issue a complaint to the Dept. of Environmental Affairs. unfortunately, here there are no fields adjoining us, and since smoke hangs and drifts far from its source, it would be hard to really make a complaint. i am just hoping, in these waning days of our stay in taiwan, that we recover to the point that a 10 hour plane ride won't be too awful. and then the clean american air (relatively, of course) can flush through our lungs.

3 cheers for government regulation!

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