There are few things in the middle of the country–even such a relatively small one as England where it’s said you’re never more than 70 miles from the sea*–that remind you of the ocean, except for this: wind passing over a field of barley, making the heads and whiskers ripple like waves.
On the evening in June that I videotaped these fields on my cousins’ farm, there were warnings of high winds throughout England. As the wind passed over the fields, it created eddies, carving out hollows and tossing the heads of the grain–a beautiful sight to everyone except perhaps my cousins.
When I first saw this field last October, it was shrouded in early morning mist, the winter barley only inches tall and in rows of military precision:
It grew in spiky clumps, with splayed leaves reminiscent of fescue grass.
Eight months later the grain, almost fully formed, is nearly ready to be harvested. A month after that the grains of barley will be crackling in the sun and the harvest will soon follow. https://theyearoflivingenglishly.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/the-crackling-of-winter-barley/.
Luckily, the rains that pounded England throughout most of the spring and into June and July abated long enough for this crop of winter barley to be harvested. The grains will be used for human or animal consumption; the stalks will become straw and employed as bedding for farm animals and horses. In September, my cousin Gordon will, as he does every year, plant new fields of winter barley and the cycle will continue.