Sunday, October 5, 2014

Observations on the Happiness of Piglets

They race past the rooster, grazing his wingtips, and he squawks, hops, crows in surprise. Around the water-tank pen of crocodiles who thrash at the sudden vibration, six piglets, striped, spotted, black, white, brown, only weeks old, charge past, a frenetic dash just for the joy of it.

photo by Robbie Petterson

Dodging veranda posts and barreling between the legs of ponderous sows, they run, past dogs soaking up sunshine like solar panels and the rugby field where ten-year-old boys shoot bamboo arrows in practice.

photo by Susie Pederson

They ram each other, tossing brother over brother, in and out of shadows of banana trees and wooden floorboards, narrowly avoiding stacks of new marota* draped against the neighbor’s house to dry.

photo by Susie Pederson

A moment, a breath to snuffle in cast-off shoes, then away! No need to rest, the piglets race, charging through the bamboo fence, wiggling as milk-rounded bellies, back legs get caught on sticks, then, push, kick, and through and they are past their mother rooting in the grass for sago crumbs, diving into mud patches which steam in the heat until the air is thick and tastes of moldering leaves.

photo by Susie Pederson

Under the flapping laundry and the breadfruit tree, piglets tumble, flip on their noses, then up again, ignoring the cactus struggling in the metal pot and the pile of gum boots tossed at the bottom of the ladder, where the fathers of Akoma village have climbed to shake hands and settle cross-legged on woven pandanus mats. The blue sky breaks among the clouds; nine meters of rain a year fall here, and Pastor Michael ushers us to the place of honor in the middle of the haus win.^

photo by Susie Pederson

The piglets charge past, a valiant cavalry, until a motherly grunt, and the leader brakes, siblings tumbling over him like swept leaves, and their noses twitch in anticipation. The sow trundles toward the road, her children falling into place, single file, each step all steadiness and decorum.

photo by Susie Pederson

Until the black-faced one stops, leaps, tail jerking, and they’re off again.

*roofing material made from sago or nipa palm
^an open-air shelter with a roof but no walls and often built on stilts


Observations on the happiness of piglets were made on our three-week trip through Gulf Province, where I and my teammates assisted local communities in literacy, translation, song-recording, and other projects. Read more starting here.