20 DECEMBER 1935, Page 16

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A Derelict Field

Sir William Beach Thomas' recent note on a derelict field must have aroused in many readers, as it did in me, melancholy memories of once rich fields grown desolate. I recall a space —hardly a field—of a thousand acres, unfenced, growing the richest wheat in its neighbourhood, the stacks standing on it like a golden hamlet, that never grew an ear for seven or eight years immediately before the introduction of the quota. And another, good land too, that for ten years has reared increasingly fat crops of wild garlic. The estimated number of derelict acres in these islands, indeed, goes into tragic and dizzy figures. But very rarely it happens that a derelict field is also beautiful : a scarlet sowing of poppies, an accidental scattering of charlock. And at least one field, last summer, shone for weeks as though with the lightest fall of snow : fifteen acres of common daisies without a blemish of earth or grass, a vast lawn of white. " Cod knows," said the pro- prietor of the appropriate petrol station that stood in one corner, opposite the devastated and once most beautiful fox- covert, " God knows what it will be like next year." Two dry summers had scattered a million seeds. I shall look forward to the effect of a third. For on the assumption that spring has come when one can tread on three daisies at one time, this will be a field of a billion springtinies.

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