Monday, May 12, 2008

Tiptoe through the ...

click photo to enlarge
Many years ago I accompanied about seventy five children on a day out in the countryside. They were nine years old and lived in a large city. At 9.30 a.m. our double-decker bus got underway and headed out through the suburbs. As it did so one of the teachers leaned across to me and said, "I wonder what time the first one will ask if they can eat their packed lunch?" I realised why she asked when a voice piped up with that request only thirty minutes later!

We were heading for an area near the mouth of a large estuary, and as we rumbled along I heard a cheer from the children upstairs on the bus. I assumed they were playing a game, but then I heard another, and soon after the children downstairs cheered too. I looked around to find out why, and it dawned on me that they were cheering at the sight of fields of oilseed rape. The children upstairs, being higher, spotted them first, and had cheered sooner. For most of them it was their first sight of these improbably bright yellow fields, and the joy of seeing them caused a cheer to ring through the bus as each one came into view for each deck of children. That trip was in June. This year the crop is flowering in early May: last year it was the middle of April. It's probably the development of early plant varieties that accounts for this, but maybe global warming is adding its touch too. There are those in Britain who dislike these yellow fields of spring, feeling that they add an alien character to our traditional green countryside. I don't mind them, probably because each time I see one the sheer yellowness of it impresses me the way it did those children, and it raises my spirits.

Who could resist walking the path across this field near Ropsley, Lincolnshire? It's like entering a fairytale land where everything is hyper-real. The farmer who owns it has, commendably, left the public right of way perfectly clear, helping not only the walkers who want to experience being surrounded by glowing yellow, but also himself, because they then keep to the path and don't trample a broad swath through his valuable crops.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 68mm macro (136mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On