I wonder whether you have asked folks for directions in the rural areas – you know, the kind of places where you wait to take the mid afternoon bus to get to the village market for groceries. Nestled deep in nature as they are, the directions will almost always contain some landmark of man-made proportions. There is a large statue by the village square: opposite that is a post office and from there, you can wait for an hour for the local bus to take to you to the nearest town. Like that. Most times, of course, the man-made landmark is also hideous to see, but that is not said out aloud, for folks are usually proud of their landmarks for one; and for another, they are probably the work of some artist who is the relative of the local postman’s nephew.
Urban folk that we are, in our local little suburb, our landmarks tend to embrace nature I find. We refer to the single patch of nature in our midst as our crowning glory. That is our landmark. The field where ravens caw, chats chitter and frolic among the resplendent sunflowers and the corn. It is simply known as The Corn Field, though the resourceful farmer there also grows squashes, pumpkins, tomatoes and bright, neat rows of flowers.
Many a time, we tell one another, ‘I am going to walk down to The Corn Field.’ Yes, we are proud of it, and I have expressed gratitude for having this son of the soil tend it so marvelously for us. How else would our children know about the beauty of growing and consuming healthy food? Many have been the evenings when the son and I have stood mesmerized by the work on the field. The farmer there has offered the little fellow a ride on his tractor as he bumps along sowing seeds and getting it ready for the next harvest. This field, is one of the most fascinating things in our semi-city/suburban life. We get to relive the magic of life through the kind farmer’s efforts, and he knows it.
As I set off one evening to The Corn Field, my heart was filled with longing. I’d had a rather long day and I was waiting to see the bright sunflowers in bloom.
I wanted to just watch the sun go down over the field and sigh at the beauty in that small patch of land. As I approached, there was something off and I was filled with a deep sense of foreboding. For one, the farmer had left the patch without re-cultivating corn for a bit longer than is usual. For another, I saw a signboard there. I knew that little thing. It means another spot of nature has been sacrificed on our relentless march to civilize and inhabit the world. “No no please not this one too!”, I cried as I half ran to the signboard. Right enough, there was a sign board indicating that the land was going to be used for building another 800 flats and I gasped.
So many times, I had enjoyed explaining to our children about the farm, sharing with them my half baked knowledge about crop rotation, tilling and watering. What would happen to the ravens, sparrows and numerous birds who visited the place? Would we lose the sweet sound of birds twittering too? There would be no need for the hideous scarecrow that does a pretty poor job of scaring away the birds anyway.
Everything would be gone for another set of buildings closely clustered together. Could we not leave this one patch as an Ode to Nature?