I loved how this morning unfolded. After awakening to a symphony of creatures large and small, Shawn and I set out to explore the rice paddies that surround our Ubud, Bali guest house. Even though it was just after eight o’clock, the rice fields were already twinkling and sizzling under the hot morning sun’s rays.
Shawn headed off on a jog, whereas I decided to take a leisurely stroll. On the path that winds through the paddies, I encountered farmers on motorbikes commuting to work. I yielded the way so that ladies carrying large planks of wood, or bags of grass-clippings on their heads could pass. I was charmed to see a new kind of empty throne to honor Bali’s supreme god – this type was organic. Whereas the ubiquitous thrones in Balinese cities are made of stone and typically carved quite elaborately, this throne was woven out of various tropical leaves, with a wooden seat. It looked quite at home in its natural environment. Since the rice harvest is so important economically, it makes sense that spiritual practices would not cease at the city limits.
I also met two farmers – one tending to a rice field, and another who had just finished scaling coconut palm trees. The middle-aged coconut farmer lamented that he did not have a job, so he picks coconuts, which he then sells to Ubud restaurants. He had picked 10 this morning and he hoped to sell them for 50,000 rupiah ($5.50 or 4€).
The man dabbling in coconuts showed me a golden paddy of rice that will likely be harvested tomorrow. He also removed a few kernels for me to sample.
After I had bid farewell to the farmers, I headed back towards our guest house, watching as a farmer took a sickle and cut through green stalks on a terrace. Iridescent pearls of water flew through the air with each slice.
Another farmer – a regular whom I’ve been observing for the past five days – walked barefoot through the paddy that he tends for hours each day. Imagine working under the boiling sun daily on the same plot of land! Would it be liberating to be free from the cares of the modern-day office, or would the physical exhaustion get the best of you?
I’ve eaten rice so many times in my life, but until this morning, I’d always taken for granted all the hard work that goes into farming it.
It’s something that I love so much about travel – how my degree of gratitude grows each day, along with my sense of wonder about the beautiful world and people all around me.