In Chiang Mai, we live a block from the CMU campus. It’s a wide stretch of land with plenty of tracks, trails and shaded sidewalks (plus too much traffic and dogs that chase). I run here almost every day.
And almost every day, I find people gathering food. I follow a paved walkway around a reservoir. On the weekends, a man sits in a tree overhanging the water. He holds a homemade spear gun in his hands. What does he hunt? What does he catch? Is this a job, or a hobby? I’m not sure. I’ve never seen him find anything, but he’s always there, always scoping the water.
On the other side of campus, behind the track, I watch as locals pick through a patch of greens, collecting bunches in their hands, and scampering off with a bag or two.
In the dry season, people raid the trees with long sticks and scoops: They’re collecting ant eggs, not my pleasure, but a popular food in northern Thailand nonetheless.
And then one day I find my own treasure. As I’m walking through a grassy lot, I discover two plump, ripe mangoes at my feet. I look up and see I am indeed standing beneath a mango tree. I take them home to Jerry, an eternal mango lover, and he bites into the juicy yellow flesh.