The school holidays are a challenge in terms of building in field time. The usual rhythm is completely lost. Those precious 2hrs are gone and I can’t do my visits with the family. I can go walking with them but I definitely can’t go this kind of walking. Field walking is a solitary business and not one in which I can wear my mum hat.
These walks are walks of solitude. The trails on foot are also trails in thought and there is no other situation in my life where my thoughts can meander in quite this way.
So today, right in the middle of the holidays I took my opportunity and stole away to the field. There are things happening there now. Last time I went I accosted a man in the top field directing a digger. Another archaeologist. More investigations. He informed me “the developer doesn’t want any nasty surprises when the buildings are going up”. I’m not sure if he was anticipating my reaction on the matter but he followed with “it’s a shame you’ll be losing your lovely field”.
My reaction to this very imminent onset of change is somewhat mixed. As I observe the mounds and ditches scraped out across the view, the exposed earth very stark, I do feel a sense of unease, but also curiosity. I’m going to witness this change and observe the wider field take on a new shape. What is gained and what is lost? The loss of mud and grass to concrete, yes. I am already starting to mourn the muddy tracks underfoot, but these fields are not wilderness, they are managed, cultivated, fenced oblongs of land. It’s hard to resist the loss of an edge. By it’s very nature isn’t the edge being simultaneously obliterated and recreated all the time? I will just be walking that bit further to get to it.
This morning I cut into an overgrown scrubby area that runs parallel to the main footpath (only slightly out of view). This has become a bit of a habit. The field presents an invitation by way of gap and winding pathway and I cannot help but oblige and follow. This led me to carry out the performance of a crazy person, fighting my way ducking and weaving, snared and scratch by brambles and stung around the ankles. Taking giant steps over tangles of thorns, feeling them grasping my clothing as I try to perform a ridiculous manoeuvre around and through low hanging branches. What is essentially an easy 5 minute pleasant stroll down a footpath was turned into an insane dance with the wild. But there are passages, if a little overgrown and there is the feeling that I’m not the only person to carry out this crazy dance.
I read we can turn anything into a religion and this field could be one of them. What kind of salvation am I in search of here?