I have arrived too early for my salsa class, so I take a seat at a table that overlooks the rice fields, and order a young coconut to drink. As I sip on the fresh juice, I feel myself relax, and I gaze out at the scene in front of me. The rice fields have been recently harvested, and are full of water, that acts as a mirror, reflecting the swaying palm trees, and setting sun. Its a scene that I never grow tired of, this pure natural beauty that is the real Bali. In the middle of one of the fields is a woman, dressed in long sweat pants and wellington boots, a traditional woven bamboo hat on her head. She is bent double, pulling weeds out of the ground, completely engrossed in her work, she does not notice me looking on.
Beside her, on the edge of the field, a line of ducks waddle in single file, keeping in step with each other. These comical creatures sway from side to side, their heads bobbing as they walk. The leader stops in his tracks, and the rest follow suit. They stand in a row, looking around, and down at the watery field, clearly contemplating their next move, their forms reflecting in the water below. They turn as one, and start moving again in the opposite direction, then stop again, flap their wings, and look at each other.
These ducks are there to perform a function, one that is very important in the life cycle of the rice fields. I wonder if they realize their importance, and are deliberately taking their time. The farmer does not seem bothered by them, as she continues with her own back breaking, and just as essential work. Maybe she understands these creatures so well and knows that they do not need any coaxing. Their job will be performed in their own sweet time.
Sure enough, one by one, the ducks jump in to the water of the rice fields, and start their task of searching out the insects and algae as well as the old pieces of grain. This is why they are here. They clean out the fields, as well as fertilize them with their droppings, in preparation for the next crop. The ducks spread out over the field, moving surprisingly quickly, sucking the mud through their beaks.
I am struck by the simplicity of this scene, where ducks and humans work side by side in harmony to prepare the fields for planting. Its such a natural scene, and yet, one that is becoming rarer here, as people are drawn to the city life, and become obsessed with dollar signs. I wonder what is going to happen to my paradise island and how much longer I will be able to bask in this beauty.
The strains of salsa music interrupt my reverie, and its time to leave my thoughts behind, and dance!