After a winter break, Michael Glickman is back, full of the joys of spring and with answers to some 'Frequently Asked Questions'…
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The season approaches and, as always, the murmuring of croppies pawing at the earth, straining at the leash and chomping at the bit increases in volume. Whatever else might be said of this most moving of phenomena, it must be admitted that it produces overwhelming anticipation. Perhaps it’s no more than its seasonality.
Meanwhile, I find this spring, like many others, I am assailed with letters, e-mails and telephone calls seeking answers and information. Most people want to hear how the crops are growing, how the fields look and what stage we are at.
I write this at the beginning of April. We have had a warm spell of a few days and, in the sun, it is impossible to not sense that the winter is tangibly over. The Alton Barnes white horse looks down friskily from Milk Hill onto the fields that have held so many formations. Driving by it every few days through the changes of season, it serves as a huge marker on the hillside. It shifts in winter from a grey so dark it hardly stands out from the surrounding land, to an increasing whiteness that comes when the air warms and dries the chalk. It is whiter now. [This could also be due to the spring clean the horse recently received! – see Melanie Gambrill’s article in April 2002 headlines – Ed]
There are hundreds of lambs. After the mishandled horrors of 2001, they are a real reassurance. They deal well with the cold, though rain and wind kills them by the dozen. But there is a sting in the tail of the mild weather. Robust harvest predictions across the country have already depressed future wheat and barley prices. Milk payments to farmers seem also to be dropping (who knows why?). The farmers are nervous about economic pressures.
Wheat and barley are tall enough now for the fields to distinctly reveal the tramlines. The oilseed rape has just started to blossom, and though we have not yet got the brilliant gold carpets, they are clearly on the way. The rape stems are about a foot high and, now that they have flowered, they will grow at an astonishing twelve inches a week. Expect formations in the third week of April.
That having been incautiously stated, I come to the second FAQ. People ask what I predict for the 2002 season and, while not wishing to blow my own trumpet, I must admit that I am inordinately proud of having correctly forecast a part of the numerological programme of the crop circle season for each of the last four years.
Last year I suggested we would see 13, the Number of Transformation, and it arrived -spectacularly – in the Milk Hill formation. Each of the six radial arms was made of 13 circles and the total number, 409, is itself an articulate encodement of 13. Milk Hill signaled the opening of a doorway; the first events through it were the magical Chilbolton formations. So what do I predict for 2002? While I would not dare to be specific, I believe the 2002 season will be a season like never before. Those who have given themselves over to this, who trust it, who are prepared to ride with it, will find appropriate rewards. Many, I regret, will be once again left behind and beached!
The third FAQ is still around, but I am cheered to say is asked these days only by American schoolchildren with crop circle projects. They want to know about Doug and Dave and their self-proclaimed disciples. (One’s astonishment that this old chestnut still has legs can be explained by the facts a) that the faded old D & D programme gets more airtime on US TV than ‘I Love Lucy’ reruns and b) by the publicity given to intemperate outbursts by researchers who are old enough to know better. At least the school kids seem to believe them!) I always answer them kindly. I explain that, while there are occasional frauds they are very few and are pathetically easy to spot. If they are truly interested in the subject, I advise them to hold the First Axiom close - everything ever stated about hoaxes is a falsehood.
The fourth FAQ is just as sad. They ask, usually with excitement, what I think the film ‘Signs’ will do for us. I tell them that the director, M Night Shyamalan, and the star, Mel Gibson, have both made their lack of interest in the realities of the crop circles radiantly clear. It was inevitable that the Hollywood sausage machine would eventually mince the phenomenon. Many starry-eyed opportunists have tried to hitch their career wagons to the irrelevant ‘Signs’ horse. I foresee the undignified spectacle of their running for cover (excuses ablaze) once the film is released in all its trivial and melodramatic glory.