EGRETS AND GRANDMOTHERS
Now that the rice fields have been planted with long even rows of the faintest wispy green brushstrokes on pale gray silk that are the rice seedlings, and the leftover blocks of unplanted rice shoots remain here and there in the fields and on their edges, the only large living things to be seen in the paddies are egrets and grandmothers.
The egrets, in their turn, with long, slow, careful steps practiced and perfected over eons, elegantly patrol the paddies filled with young rice plants (never stepping on even one tiny shoot) and continue patrolling throughout the growing season, ensuring that proper balance is maintained between the populations of little fish, frogs and insects.
The other large creatures in the paddies, the grandmothers, are out there early in the morning or late in the evening after the machines have gone, to plant by hand here and there in the difficult corners and paddy-edge curves, to use up the last of the otherwise wasted rice shoots. Then the grandmothers come throughout the growing season to pluck the weeds that always, in the history of just about everything, try to take over.
The egrets do it because it feeds them, it's a pleasure and it leads onward. The grandmothers do it for the same reasons.