Locho and his wife, Yama, are nomads who watch over a herd of yaks and horses in Dzachukha, eastern Tibet, Sichuan Province, China. He has been "following the yak's tail" since the age of six. His grandmother convinced him not to go to school. Yama is a very hard worker and her view that women have to work more than men in this part of the world is true; we watch her constantly doing an endless round of chores and rituals. She married Locho when she was 17 knowing that he was very popular with other women. Now, as he puts it, they are inseparable. The light of their life is their little baby girl who has not been given a name yet — this is part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Summer Pasture is a glorious documentary directed by Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo. In the spirit of Tulpan and The Story of the Weeping Camel, we are treated to an exquisite look at the nomadic life with its incredible weather changes. big sky vistas, and endearing people who are resilient survivors. Locho loves his work and arises at four in the morning to begin his day. He states: "Nothing is better than animals." Locho maintains that belief even though the yaks sometimes wander off and must be retrieved. One of the most unpleasant tasks is spreading their dung pies out on the ground to dry so that they can be used as fire fuel during the very cold winter. In an amazing sequence, Yama is milking a calf with Locho working nearby when they are pummeled by hail stones in a sudden storm. They never know what to expect when they venture forth each day.
Locho handles the business affairs and travels to the city to shop for supplies, and we see a different side of him as he barters prices for goods. He laments the growing number of nomads who are selling their herds and moving to cities. Locho marvels at the importance of caterpillar fungus in his life: It is a very valuable product which must be carefully gathered and protected. Nomads make a lot of money from it.
Yama, who is shy and laughs nervously, reveals her struggles with a physical ailment and the death of two of her babies. She practices Tibetan Buddhism and does rituals regularly.
By the end of Summer Pasture, we feel that we have been blessed with an intimate, rounded, and realistic look at this charming and hard-working Tibetan couple.