One of my favorite things about living in Bali is watching the cycle of rice growing. Yeah, the gorgeous, bright green, terraced rice fields make for postcard perfect tourist photos, but watching what goes into growing rice is simply stunning. It has caused me to be more appreciative of every grain of rice. We have seen several cycles so far, from preparing the fields, to planting the rice, to tending the crop, and into harvesting. All of it complicated, and still something I do not truly understand.
As the rice nears its final stages, though, it becomes attractive to the birds. And, much like the image I have of farms in the US, probably inspired a bit from the Wizard of Oz, the rice farmers here in Bali use scarecrows to frighten the birds. I believe the scarecrows of Bali, though, are unique, and unlike any I have seen before.
Our gardener, Pak Mejo, tends the rice outside of our villa. We see he and his wife working daily, even during Nyepi, to ensure a good crop. They arrive early in the morning and spend the day working from one of the wooden shacks, which holds their tools and allows them a place to escape the hot afternoon sun.
Pak Mejo and his wife created four new scarecrows just outside of our villa. They each are dressed in local Balinese clothing, and were so detailed, I had to explore the fields, with camera in tow, to capture the detail of the scarecrows in Bali.
This scarecrow, in full action, holding a flag to make the birds think she is scaring them away. It was the first scarecrow up, and the one that caught our eye. Like the other women scarecrows, she is wearing a traditional woman’s lace top, or kebaya, a sash, and a sarong. She has long, dark hair, which is still popular with the Balinese women. There are flowers on her head, from a recent offering to the Balinese gods.
She stands guard over the fields in front of her, hard at work.
I wonder if that is one of our ginger ale cans used to make a little noise as the wind blows.
I am not sure if this is supposed to be representative of Pak Mejo and his wife, standing out in front of their work shed. For me, it looked like a newly married couple standing outside of their new home, in a rustic scarecrow kind of way.
Even on a rainy day in Bali, it is still gorgeous, with this scarecrow’s yellow and blue kebaya, and the flecks of rain water on the tips of the rice stalks.
And, to demonstrate the immense detail of these particular scarecrows, there is one more in the fields near us, but on land that is not tended by Pak Mejo. This guy stares right at our house, and can see me sitting at my kitchen table. He is a little more sad, with an old t-shirt, no arms, and really, no head. I wonder if the finely dressed scarecrows feel bad for him. I wonder if he stares off in the distance, feeling shabby, and wondering If I Only Had a Brain, or at least arms. Perhaps my island fever is getting to me.