NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 94

FIELD HEAD FARM “The Head, ”Lancashire, England, June 18, 1971 Two weeks later, we walk miles on the fells. Blue cloudless sky, warm sun, endless hills & valleys. Bird music overhead. Find a green patch at base of falls, stretch out, sweat on bare chest, rise to bathe in rushing beck. Smoke beneath a high green hill. A lamb eyes us through the brush. Stripped naked in the sun, we drink its strength. The sun is a paradox: it gives & takes energy at once. Walking back along the beck, we observe the sheep gathered in clumps beneath a stand of trees. The heat is discomforting, especially if you’re clad in wool. Bleating by a wire fence.a lambchild caught in the mesh, frantically trying to free himself. Sandi & I calm him. I delicately extricate his horns. He knows enough to let us free him. No stop for thanks. Not even a fleeting glance of gratitude as he bounds up to a greener place. Old, bearded, rummy-faced man spilling his soul in pastel chalk on the sooty sidewalk. Christ crying silver tears for humanity. Its sea of faces passes by, sidestepping, barely glancing at the derelict, drawing, down on all fours. Soon they will walk over the man, over the image. The heavens, like Christ, will weep violently, all will be washed away — the artist to an alley to shiver away the night with his chalks and, if he’s lucky, a bottle, the viewers, the passersby, me. All remains though, still, in mind. Nevertheless, we made his day. him, ours. Walking the fells & dales, lush valleys in all directions, Sheep graze within vast stone enclosures, baah-ing lambs scurry to their mothers at the approach of humans. But a motherless lamb will approach you & nuzzle like a household pet. Exhilarating to look out in all directions & see clear land, land, which has not changed significantly for centuries, dotted occasionally by buildings that are hundreds of years old. Tom & Sandi’s farm, Field Head, was built in 1660. It is a two story stone house, approached by a two mile rocky road, & includes several enclosures for animals, & various pastures for sheep. We range over the hilly fields, or fells, following Foxdale Beck below us, through ferns & nettles, over higher grounds with clusters of green & red heather, and the occasional red flower called gorse that grows in clusters on small bushes. Starlings, gulls, curlews glide & fly against the breathing puffs of clouds. The clouds are alive! The sky is a canopy for the nearest hill. A hare scurries underfoot. We are loose, all of us, on the body of the earth. Worlds within worlds. The shy sheep with their involuted horns, wandering the fells. A cluster of trees here & there, called plantations. We follow the beck till we reach a waterfall, where we sit to rest, contemplating the rushing stream & the symmetrical dance of its levels of descent. After a bit, we ourselves assume a descent, following the fall’s stream down to Foxdale and then back up to Field Head, following the more uneven & difficult lower path. Really, it’s not much of a path, & we must pick our way along a sloping rocky bank with occasional marshy patches, scaring up an occasional pheasant or grouse along the way. I slide down slopes in places where the ground won’t support me, but the earth doesn’t seem to mind, so why should I? It’s all in a day’s motion. I spread my energy as a force of love, & the green old mother with her gray & hoary brows of rocks, surely knows. SIDEWALK ARTIST, LONDON, 1971