The same thing happened to me this June as apparently happens to many when it comes to buses. Jude posted a photo so stunning that I immediately shared it with a dear friend with the entreaty that we must visit this place together next year. But a year is a long time to wait, and – here’s where the buses come in – over the next little while it seemed that all my usual online Cornish haunts were filled with fields of poppies. I had never heard about the poppies at West Pentire in previous years; now they were everywhere. I had to see for myself.
I considered the weather: Tuesday seemed ideal. It was a little cloudy but undaunted we set off with expectations high. By the time we arrived it was not only heavily overcast but misty. There would be no shining skies or sparkling seas as backdrops to our poppy-filled vistas.
I confess to flutterings of disappointment at the sight of the first meadow. There were poppies yes, but sparse and tired. Mostly green with sprinklings of dusty red. We walked on.
One can either rail against what is or adjust to it: remain open and seek out the pleasures of the unexpected. Devoid of sun, in a light shadowy and unsure, the meadows of West Pentire were an experience quite different from that I had anticipated and no less special for that.
We did find poppies. We also found marigolds. Corn marigolds in abundance. A myriad bright daisies, sunflower yellow with heads held up towards the grey skies.
The meadows were not a mass of red with yellow accents but fields of gold with scarlet buttons. A Monet tapestry. I crouched at flower height for some minutes, immersed not only in the colours before me but surrounded by the thrum of insects. And overhead the pewter skies were filled with the rippling song of soaring skylarks.
The meadows are beautiful. They offer succour not only to insect and animal life but also to human souls. As expected, we were not alone in the meadows and everyone seemed as enthralled as we were. There’s a peace which exudes from these fields that perhaps is felt universally. Perhaps we can sense those days before our own lifetimes, days when meadows such as these were part of daily lives.
Perhaps we gaze today and recall what once was: what we are in danger of losing for ever but what might again be, with change and care. Perhaps also, as we breathe among the poppies we think of other fields, fields on forgeign shores. Perhaps we think of what was lost and what was gained, at an unfathomable cost. Of those who breathe no more. Red is the colour of blood but yellow is the colour of hope. And for me today, in this difuse indifferent light, hope blazed.
The walk I had chosen took us beyond the poppy fields and provided additional pleasures which merit a post of their own. But as we headed back to the car, the air dense and dark with humidity, I took some final photos. There were no corn marigolds here. The poppies appeared to float above the field, numinous and eternal. Ghostly sentinels. Reminders. Beacons.
2/7/19 Edit: roadside verges in UK worth a read