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One of the slowest starts to a crop circle season on record has made for an odd beginning to this year’s UK events, wrong-footing all expectations – as ever! ANDY THOMAS looks at the state of recent things…

What an odd season it’s been so far. By mid-May of any given year, one can usually expect to have had at least a handful of crop formations in the UK from April onwards, but this year it took until 21st May for the very first event to make itself known, only just sneaking inside the post-1990 record of 23rd May 1990 as the latest start. And 2006’s first event was little to write home about, really – a rather rough-looking ring in rapeseed at Alfriston, East Sussex (check out the new-circle reporting websites for details). Actually, this was in truth the SECOND English event of the year, not the first – that honour rather dubiously went to a man-made logo created for a Wiltshire newspaper, not the greatest of starts to a season.

Though the rape (canola) fields were later to bloom this year, there were certainly enough prime canvases for early May formations to have appeared, yet none did. At the time of writing, other reports are beginning to creep in (there’s now also a circle near Oxford), but very slowly. Other countries as far afield as Australia (which had the first global formations of the year in March – see photos and Feedback), Italy and even France seem to have activity, but the UK has gone quiet. We have received many concerned e-mails from people wondering where the phenomenon has gone this year, and what it is up to. Various explanations have been offered up, the weather, changes in the magnetic fields of the earth, lazy plankers... or lazy ETs.

The best advice we can give to these concerned enquirers is this – that the crop circle phenomenon is well known for always doing what IT wants – not what people expect of it! It moves in its own mysterious ways, and trying to second-guess it is probably a mistake. The lateness of the circles this year either means that natural conditions which may contribute to the creation process aren’t right, or that whatever force is out there simply isn’t ready to go for it yet.

Some have long speculated whether a year would one day come with few or no circles. If this were ever to happen (and I find it hard to believe we’re at that point, but we’ll soon see), this would, of course, in itself be a noteworthy wonder. A lull before a storm, heralding the beginning of something new..? My suspicion, however, is that we’ll soon be back up and running, but I’m willing to be proved wrong.

In the commerical world, meanwhile, interest in crop circles will remain high at any rate. There are at least three new crop circle books readying themselves for publication this summer, though one of them is a sceptical production from a well-known planking outfit, so those sensitive to such things be warned – that will be the one that will probably garner most publicity in these cynical times, and those guys have good media contacts... The UK-based BBC-owned ‘Focus’ Magazine also has a major (and again, probably sceptical) feature on crop circles within its pages this month (dated as the July issue), and other TV programmes and features are likely to follow as ever. Indeed, the annual Glastonbury Symposium cerealogical gathering was recently featured as part of a BBC TV programme about searches for the Holy Grail.

Interesting to note the world going crazy over ‘The Da Vinci Code’ recently, with media battles between the faithful of both sides fighting their causes with claims and counter-claims. And that over what is essentially a fiction, whatever the reality or otherwise of the themes in the book and film... Meanwhile, a genuine and arguably more enduring mystery will – hopefully - be gracing our fields again before long, but paradoxically is unlikely to get such a big look-in. Croppies have been fighting for perceived truths in this way for years, of course. Perhaps someone could persuade Dan Brown to write a crop circle novel..?

Onwards, then, and hopefully upwards, when the phenomenon wakens properly from its slumbers.

Alfriston, East Sussex, 21 May 2006 (photo: ANDY THOMAS)
Alfriston, East Sussex, 21 May 2006 (photo: ANDY THOMAS)
Conondale, Australia, 29/30 March 2006 (photo: RICHARD GILES)
Conondale, Australia, 29/30 March 2006 (photo: RICHARD GILES)


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