the natural world
Egret, the oldest independent
U.S. journal of nature
Egret, Vol. 75, #1
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by the Outrider
Fields offer the most articulate description and vivid enactment
of our life here on earth, of how we live both within the grain of the
world and against it. We break ground to lay foundations, sow seeds and
begin life; we break ground to harvest life, bury our dead and end
things. Every fiedld is at once totally functional and the expression
of an enormous idea. Fields live as proverbs as well as fodder and we
reap what we sow.
above all the movement of rain across this vast area, draws grass up
from the ground at different times. The wildebeest and other herbivores
follow the rain and eat.
by Tim Dee
This book is a personal meditation on fields in four locations -
southern Zambia, Custer Battlefied in Montana, the Exclusion Zone at
Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and the fens of Cambridgeshire in East Anglia
- and what meanings they carry for their inhabitants or visitants.
These fields are a backdrop for the author's ruminations, which often
range far afield (pardon the pun) from their source inspiration. His
observations follow the flow of a restless mind, from the astute
descriptions of an experienced naturalist to the impacts of human
occupation to the avian presences he encounters. At the site of General
Custer's fabled Last Stand, he records this poetic impression:
"In the evening sky above me, Venus pushed through like a first match
struck and then the silver dust of the night came prickling overhead
all the way along the battle ridge from Last Stand Hill. Away from the
storm, the unvexed lay quiet around the sky, darkening it where they
ran, marshalling yards for the night. A female northern harrier bucked
along beside me, silent over the grass and the death markers. The
meadowlarks began to wind down and just as I turned to leave, a
nighthawk appeared right at the roadside, flapping fast and ghostly
over the grass, part of the dark coming into the end of the day."
to The Nature Pages
But there is something else about the corncrakes that exacerbates their
otherworldliness. It is not their fault, and I have no science to prove
it, but it is something I cannot help feeling. They don't appear to be
fully resolved in life. 'A sort of living doubt,' John Clare called the
corncrake and its music.
Until you get to an edge here you feel you are on the floor of the
Earth, flat and low. Then the ground gives way and, beyond gulches and
canyons of bare earth, the busy washing away of the world, are dropped
and sunken miles of more grass blowing into the distance.