I sat overlooking the rice fields this evening from an umbrella table in the back of our lodging?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s courtyard. The place feels like something made for the gentry, except that this is a former Dutch colony, not English. There are 5 larger two-story cottages around the perimeter of Sri Ratih?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s inner courtyard and a handful of smaller single cottages leading to the rice field in back. A swimming pool holds center court along with a variety of flowering trees such as hibiscus and frangipani. The buildings are of a pagoda style, and with 2 shrines on the compound for daily offerings there?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s no doubt this is far from the English countryside.
There are farmers in the rice fields tonight using their sicles to cut long grasses from the terrace ridges. This morning Dave and I walked a long, curved path into the rice paddies north of Ubud that wind between the 2 rivers that flow from the north. From our vantage point along the ridge path we watched farmers in coned hats bend in the sun cutting elephant grass and tend their rice crops. Sitting this evening watching our neighboring farmers I wonder what it takes to successfully bring a crop of rice to harvest. I spent much of my growing up years among Midwestern farms so I understand their rhythms and the work involved. But I watch these men trudging the terrace ridges between the fields, cutting grasses, and spending concentrated efforts to perhaps set right the irrigation among the fields, and I am without reference to know what they do.
The fields swim in a peaceful verdant green with water flowing at their perimeters. North of Ubud along the path this morning the noise of the town fell away and we were left with only the wind and birds as accompaniment. Halfway through our walk we sat on the steps of a yoga studio in a small village and watched several farmers work in their paddies across the road. There was an orderliness to the fields, stretching before us in neat terraced plots, and an graceful efficiency to the men?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s labors. Two small brown and white herons plied the watery fields in search of bugs and fish, in silent partnership with the farmers.
Tonight I?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢m back in that quiet along our neighboring rice field. The evening sun is slipping below the horizon beyond the palm trees at the far end of the paddy, leaving a hint of pink glowing out through the trees. The sky above is the faintest blue, soft and lacy like a worn handkerchief. Swallows dip and swirl overhead, along with a flotilla of dragonflies that dart above the shrubbery along the field?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s edge. Soon small black bats will be out collecting their evening fare of mosquitoes and gnats. It?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s a different, lesser-known kind of paradise out here among the fields of rice.