336The men climb high above the ground, lopping off small branches with their stone-bladed axes. The women and children gather up the foliage and pile it around the bare tree trunks. It is backbreaking work that goes on for days as the farmers watch the brassy sky for thunderclouds and signs of rain. A few spits of rain and building clouds bring hope of imminent showers. The people ignite the tinder-dry brush, which burns fiercely. The sky fills with dense brown smoke as far as the eye can see, as the women turn over the fresh ash into the cleared soil and plant their precious seed. Then, everyone waits for the life-giving rains to conjure bright green shoots from the soil.