Bali’s Beloved Ducks

The rice was planted two different times in front of the villa this season with some fields being harvested a few weeks before the others. The harvested areas are being gleaned by huge squadrons of ducks, while the rest of the rice is still ripening and awaiting the scythe. 

For some reason this season there are no morning bird-chasers out in the fields, shouting, banging garbage can lids, and waving flags on long poles to chase away the wild birds who steal the precious rice. While the bird-chasers make a good story, the noise disturbs my morning contemplation of the universe, so I’m grateful for the break in that rice field routine.

The morning remains quiet…until the ducks are sent out on their daily sortie. The ducks’ performance varies minute to minute, from military precision to quacking chaos.  They line up in ranks and charge over the rice field terrace walls to conquer new territory, screaming their unlikely battle cry.  Once the field is secured, quiet descends as they get down to the serious task-at-hand of eating fallen rice from the muddy soup the fields have become. They eat and they contribute to the fertility of the fields in almost equal measure. The ducks’ by-product is the reason for their existence in the farmer’s eyes. That and duck soup or grilled sate the family will enjoy sometime in the future.

With enough territory conquered and explored for the day, the ducks again gather back into formation and march along the foot wide rice field dikes on their way to the duck-barracks for some quiet quacking until dark, some shut eye, and the chance to do it all over again tomorrow, if they’re lucky.


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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