We always have choices and on this day I choose to feel a bit daft.
Driving along but then ducking off the road – parking in a muddy verge and then loping off into a field with iPhone in hand. I hadn’t expected this and I am arrested by the moment.
Whilst I was snapping away I was aware of passengers in cars going past looking at me. Yes I’m supposed to – and allowed to – feel a bit daft.
But here’s the gig. For whatever the reason – by design or pure chance – a whole field is on fire with poppy redness. A camera can never capture it but from behind the wheel of my car – across the snapdragon yellow bonnet and stretched out forever – is a sea of flowers that I just didn’t expect.
Are they planted and planned or were the conditions ‘just right’? Did they pop, go viral – a groundswell event expressing passion and vitality in this flash of colour. An uprising. Expected and predicted? Or did you have to be part of the in-group to know it was coming?
But here it is and it’s quite striking and I don’t mind stopping my day and trying to capture it.
What I find is that you need to seize these chances because when winter comes the images are even more precious. (And I’m plucking out these images now and it IS winter and it is a blue-grey, wet-spray kind of world right now…)
Seeing these poppies – in a field at the start of Halfpenny Lane – reminded me of the time (2002?) when Farringdon Hill – closer to home – exploded with poppies. A huge field at the foot of the Folly – totally committed to red – unexpected and dazzling to everyone that went past.
Memorable not just for the colour (or the shock of it), but also for the way people responded to the spectacle. The Folly hill, a field that sits at the side of the road – a busy road. People veered off their journeys – pulled onto the verge and walked into the field like pilgrims at Varanasi walking into the Ganges.
It was 10 Years ago – before mobile phones grew eyes – and people clasped their chunky AA-battery powered digital cameras and sought ways to steal a slice of the crimson. The Faringdon Poppies were stunning – I didn’t expect it and I doubt others didn’t either. I’d never seen it before and still don’t know if it is by design or chance that it happened.
But there in that moment we have impact and contrast. And cars and people all stop. And I still remember it.
The snaps below are pictures of my Oxfordshire poppies from last summer. But the picture at the top of the page is from a local artist who captured the Faringdon Folly experience – it’s quite beautiful and a wonderful thing she has painted.
A moment captured.