During fine weather the air hangs low and stillness weighs heavy, but at the drop of a hat the storm clouds congregate and empty their rain onto the island. Like a foul mood, the weather bucks and brays. Wind screams and the sky bleeds black. But the field remains.
Even in the bleary heat of summer, little changes. Soil becomes crisper; grass withers; the rabbits multiply. But the four parameters still stand, robust, holding up the field’s existence.
In their most basic form, fields are just containers.
We’ve cookie-cut the land and now the countryside is mostly set to a blueprint that was decided during the dark days of feudalism. Boxed-off plots, once ploughed by serfs for landowners, have been left over from the Middle Ages as a blanket pattern over the country’s surface. Fences and walls keep livestock or crops within boundaries to bring order to the land. Commodities shared out in geography.
The fallow field is left to its own devices: grasses and weeds flourish; soil enrichens; the cold wind blows through unnoticed. These empty, often forgotten plots, are fields at their best: overgrown and studded with molehills and rabbit holes; intertwined weeds and grasses built up around the trunks of trees; a sense of emptiness regardless of this dense micro-environment. There’s beauty in the disarray held within this once organised section of land.
Nature can’t damage the field. The elements can batter all they want, but no rain or snow will weather the arrangement printed into the land. Roads may erode; buildings crumble. But fire can rage through a field; large pools of stagnant water can swamp in corners; yet while the borders still stand around the area of grass – regardless of the chaos held within – the field is still a field.
Even holes in walls do little to damage the structure. Simple repairs can fix a wooden fence or dry-stone wall, and, even in the meantime, a makeshift barrier will do just as well. Unless a field is repurposed – built on, walls purposefully pulled down – then it continues as it is, as it ever was, existing to fulfill its one purpose: to divide up ownership and bring order to the land.
When you are in the middle of a field, the world could rage around on the outside, yet you'd still feel a sense of containment. Maybe only the slightest sense of containment as the rain thrashed your cheeks, but the feeling is still there, nonetheless.
Your clothes may be soaked but you’re safe, surrounded by four walls.