Why do I love a field? My love of fields started in my youth as I spent hours gazing out of our “picture window” at the field across from my childhood home. Cows frequented this 100-acre field encased by a fence line of barbed wire. In the corner sat a deserted tenant home that the local volunteer fire department burned one night to get some “practice.” I stayed out of that field for a long time because my mother warned me not to wander inside due to a large black bull whose domain I was to avoid. When my fear of the bull waned, I decided it was time to explore the field. With due diligence, I contorted my body between the weakest barbed wire strands and entered the field. Constantly checking over my shoulder for the king bull’s whereabouts, my senses were lifted as I explored the flowers, grasses, and numerous species of insects and birds. This field seemed a dreamland to a 7 year old, and I was “hooked” on fields.
Fields are an oasis for wildlife. Preserving fields from development provides a respite for wildlife and plays an important role in the continuation of many species. Insects that frequent grassland fields provide nourishment for numerous species of birds. I cherish my childhood memories of walking my father’s fields and being startled at the explosion of quail rising out of the sheltering grasses. Check the trees surrounding a field, and you can spot hawks and other raptors waiting to feed on the small rodents scurrying through the grasses. Fields of agricultural crops surely have large populations of deer, fox, rabbits, and birds feasting on leftover sprouts and seeds, especially at twilight. Hay rolls drying in the sun and decorating the field ensure food for cows and horses in the upcoming winter months. Flooded cornfields in winter provide vital feeding and resting areas for a dwindling waterfowl population.
A field can be defined as an open space for the purposes of tillage, and South Carolina provides excellent examples of the beauty present in a field. Fields start their celebration in the winter months: planted rye grass and emerging winter wheat offer a summer-like vibrant green when otherwise all around are bare trees and dull colors. Rural fields in winter are often filled with the beautiful golden strands of broomsedge, which softens the harsh winter landscapes.
Americana and cultural enthusiasts will enjoy the many treasures found in and nearby fields. Look for un-planed cedar posts supporting rusting barbed wire fences surrounding fields. Along the fence line, pay attention to cedar trees that birds “planted” while resting on the fencepost. The discovery of a dilapidated tenant home reminds us of a time when the nearby field was the lifeline to a family.
Fields close to country churches provide a resting place to those who have passed away, and it’s not unusual to see a family cemetery located in the corner of the field. An increasingly rare site is a windmill, which turns no more, but is positioned next to a field because it once took advantage of the winds traveling unimpeded through the field.
As the years fly by and I realize that I am now in the later years of my life, my need to explore a field is not so much to discover what’s in the field but to learn what’s inside of me. A field provides solace and a chance to clear our minds and to help solve whatever problem burdens our day. The experiences of fresh open spaces, being in nature, and appreciating the beauty within a field works wonders to refresh the soul. I go back in time to that first field I explored, and the magic is still there. I’ll be careful not to rip my clothing getting around the barbed wire, and chances are I won’t let the “bull” keep me from experiencing the wonders in the field.