The Rice Gamut [Haibun]

Terraced rice fields. Some, in rectangular blocks. Others, following valley contours. In the tropics, all stages exist at once: The mirrored surfaces of flooded but unplanted paddies. The orderly stubble of freshly planted fields. The max saturation green fields, densely packed with verdancy. The tawny fields of heavy-headed ripe rice. One may pass all of these (and gradations, thereof) as one walks the narrow lanes that dissect farmland. People, birds, and animals transit the slender paddy levees, lending color to a monotony of vibrancy. Sometimes, a weather-beaten man or woman wades in the field -- feet wide and bent at the waist. Nowadays, people come from far away (sometimes even paying admission) to see these fields -- to see so much green packed under blue skies and to let that photosynthetic glory wash over them. 

mirrored paddy --
flooded but unplanted; a
child studies himself

lush green fields.
crows on the paddy dike
command the eye

tawny rice.
stalks bent under
grain-swollen heads 

TODAY’S PHOTO: Roadside Cambodia

This is Cambodia

This is Cambodia

Traveling cross-country through Cambodia at the end of the wet season, the road seems to be just the Mac-daddy paddy dike, and the rest of the country is a flooded rice paddy. What once was jungle is now solitary trees, often palms, jutting out of a verdant sea. Farmers fish waist deep, casting nets, as emaciated oxen cool their bellies. Everyone lives and dies by water.