autumn beginssea and sprouting rice fields one green -Basho
When I mentioned that I would head over to Bali from Bangkok for a week, my coworker interjected with his take on the island: “Bali is the most romantic place on earth.” I had gotten in the habit of never holding too tightly to someone’s perceptions about a place. As a lone female traveler, I had learned thus far that travel is subjective in so many ways, colored by all the moments that a person lives before arriving to a destination for the first time.
Bali didn’t strike me as very romantic at first. All that people define as romantic must cover a range as wide as the Amazon River. I didn’t sense romance in the temples littered with tourists or in the forests full of the clambering monkeys, not at the calm docks where I spent the night on a yacht, not in the long fingernail dances or zealous song. I didn’t even feel it at the seaside—the comfortable edge of things where I usually find the entire world.
Yet, some part of me was wooed when I got to the fields. The energy from the verdant terraces glistened off the water. The rice fields of Bali stopped me in my tracks with their expansive serenity, their hum of life.
were my father here,
at dawn we would gaze
over the green fields
Just in case you were wondering if the Bali sunset over the ocean was a shabby show,…it’s not.
But it’s the rice fields I yearn to see again.
Read: For a read on the role and history of rice in Bali and the beloved rice mother, the Goddess of life and fertility, take a look at Reflections on the romance and poetry of rice.
Find more by Japan’s great writers Basho, Buson, & Issa in The Essential Haiku—one of my favorite collections to start exploring the beauty of this short poem form.