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BALI HOLIDAY – RICE PADDY FIELDS…

[ This is the fourth of several posts about this trip… to start at the beginning click here: ]

The quintessence of Bali’s innumerable charms might be the beauty of the landscape, long cultured into the picturesque —  often arabesque —  rice paddy fields.

Although they have been photographed millions of times they begged being captured yet again inside our lenses… they are indeed improbable & fantastic! These terraces of heavenly reflections which feed so many people seem to form the best working symbol helping to explain this gentle culture carved from the residual bones of volcanic violence…

Our photos are intimate to our own eyes… beginning with this shot I made, on one of our walks along the road, showing my fascination with the light playing inside the rich tropical vegetation of the reflections of the sky… omnipresent connections between the upper & lower worlds. Water is the medium of this conversation. We humans live in a mystical layer of mythical mud celebrating these photographically visible entities.

 
We humans live in dialogue by eating plants who thrive [or not]…
…sharing with the animals who live with us… 
inside this very thin Æconomie of ecology.
  

How do we find ourselves indulging in the “progression”… more like “procession” perhaps… holding a genuine appreciation inside our continuing  explorations.

Travel must confront itself.

We were blessed being welcomed by our friends Joel & Nirgrantha… then introduced into their community of American Ex-Pats… including a number of men we already know from the States who now live in Bali. Small world!

Joel was partnered with James Broughton [about whom Stephen has made his film: BIG JOY] for 24 years, until James’ death. He met Nirgrantha, a retired psychiatrist, when they were both living in New York City.

We sojourned inside compounds built on the memories of what had earlier been Subak paddy fields, surrounded by their now possibly endangered sibling pad`dys. The Æconomie of the neighboring farmers is now based less on the historic community, or the water temple’s decisions, than on the possibility of selling to who would own for ourselves rather than join that older culture we aspire to honor… even as we are obviously destroying it with our appreciation.

However well artists know that in order to create one must destroy… be it pristine paper or virgin stone… must still then accept the responsibility for the burden of that act in re-creation. This  often brings nostalgia for some improbable return to some imagined original state.

Æconomie plays similarly here in our own country… just as where huge corporate farms buy-out the small family farms in Kansas, leaving nothing supporting any possible fantasy containing Little House On The Prairie…

I can only imagine the correlate in Bali… I know that money makes the world go ’round… implying returning cycles…. perhaps measured in centuries. Travelers enjoy the deconstructed layers of many beautifully resurrected European cities… of sites further east more ancient yet. Nostalgia, part of travel’s romance, is of course, both blessing & bane…

Along the route of our flights we briefly stopped in Asian cities like Singapore & Bangkok which are as immense as any, presenting faces enviably more modern than most in the US. Be it nostalgic procession or dynamic progress, one can only travel inside that larger flow…

The world is still big.
We are here…
Seedlings.
A nursery of rice seedlings
planted densely inside a temporary paddy field,
 dammed with black plastic sheeting
held in place with bamboo stakes…
ready to be planted
by patient hand
into the nearby paddy field
newly groomed
sanctioned to be saturated
The terraces are literally a topographical map of any local terrain…
designed to hold the water in place
on any particular farmer’s land
for the allowed period of time
required for planting in
some really proper muck.

 
All through the paddy landscape are to be seen shelters & shrines of various kind…
farmers inviting Spirit, needing to become integral with their land.
On one afternoon stroll along the road we interacted with several boys on bikes who, after making casually playful & humorous connection with us, veered off onto a local path, out of sight…
Reappearing later… dancing their distant greeting!
Sunset came on rapidly, in tropic manner…

Just before I caught this woman winnowing the day’s rice

To which I add the observance from our courtyard of a man collecting fuel… or fiber…

 One last view of paddy farms seen lower, carved in the riparian flats down close to the river,
seen from the construction site of the home of a new acquaintance.

A pavilion perches there… recently re-positioned, overlooking that vista…

With prayers of rice at its footing…

Blessed with rice!

Atmospheric bell sound floating atop 
 those foundational rice offerings… 

This is my muse seeing Bali… 
improbably lively expressions of creativity
 in every moment…
certainly completely romantic
yet also palpable.