Happy Earth Day!
It seems only appropriate that, as the snow falls outside while I type this, that I tell you I finished One Green Field by Edward Thomas over the weekend.
For such a slim book, 106 pages, it took a long time to read. It is not difficult reading by any means and the essays are mostly five pages or less. What took so long is that these little gems are so incredibly rich that just one or two would be enough for a few days. Plus, it seemed there was always something in the essay that would send me off on my own flights, recalling flowers and forests and fields, creeks and rivers, birds and dazzling insects. I’d find my eyes kept going over the words while my mind drifted away and two pages later I’d be recalled and have to go back and read again only to find myself sitting on a warm rock in the piney shade listening to the wind that sounded like water moving through the trees.
Thomas seems like he would have been a perfect walking companion; a man who would not fill the quiet with chatter because the sound of a breeze in the grass was unbearable silence to him. He is the kind of person with whom you could meander, no destination in mind, and not worry about pausing to look closely at the bee in the flower and feel as though you were keeping him from something else more important. I mean, how can you not like a man who says,
I have found only two satisfying places in the world in August — the Bodleian Library and a little reedy, willowy pond, where you may enjoy the month perfectly, sitting and being friendly with moorhen and kingfisher and snake, except in the slowly recurring intervals when you catch a tench and cast only mildly envious eyes upon its cool, olive sides.
Thomas rarely names where he is. Most of the time it is a village, a farm, a field, or a pond. Sometimes it is a church or the Four Elms inn where
The sanded floor, cool and bright, received continually the red hollowed petals that bled from a rose on the table.
And as marvelous as Thomas is at describing nature, he is also delightful at describing people too. One man was
a grasshopper in the fields of religion, scandal, and politics, and wore his hat scrupulously on one side.
And how the echoes of a hymn still lingers after the congregation has left the church, the voices caught in “the high grey stone and those delicate windows” as in a cage.
One Green Field is a lovely little book I highly recommend for those who enjoy nature writing. You will be sure to enjoy the poeticism of Thomas’s prose and be sent away on your own reveries, forgetting, just for a little while, that the snow is falling heavy outside the window.