Colour and Death

The strong sense of fullness in the lanes continues – that’s the best way I can think of to describe it. The combination of mild and wet weather seems to have made everything growing at this time of year grow that bit extra.

All this growth is overwhelmingly green – very little other colour strikes you at a casual glance. Look more closely and there is variety but by and large it’s subtle, tucked away amidst all the other vegetation in its many shades of green.

Red poppies are an exception: they do grab your attention. It seems to me you’ll find them as stragglers in hedgerows and verges, en masse in some fields – I think mainly, but not exclusively, among cereal crops.

Striking red poppies

Red amongst the green

In the context of a field of crops, poppies are, of course, weeds. I’ve been told that if you see a field without them it more-than-likely means they’ve been poisoned to death. Pesticide is just a selective poison, going by a marginally nicer name.

When you see acre upon acre of weed-free field, as you can around these parts, it is probably masking a lot of poisoning. I suspect that’s another of those things we’d all do well to bear in mind. No, that’s not a knee-jerk ‘old hippy’ thought: that our collective long-term track record on poisoning land isn’t great isn’t really open to dispute. What’s been deemed safe at one point in time has often turned out to be quite the opposite a few years down the line.

More personally, I once met a government scientist in Henley who told me he wouldn’t eat anything grown on flat land near the Thames because of the amount of pesticide run-off from neighbouring hills that’s now accumulated in the soil. Chance encounters like that stick with you. He had no axe to grind, nothing to gain in telling me that.