Field of Dreams


Three to four days a week I go running through the agricultural research fields that border my neighborhood. They are the property of the nearby university and go on for miles, and when I’m descending a particular hill in the middle of this vast acreage, I can see the fields spread out below me like a patchwork quilt, laid out in rectangular fashion and the colors of them all different, as some were planted in corn, some in oats or wheat or soybeans, and the remainder in various kinds of hay. But there is one solitary field at the far reaches of this property that nearly stops me in my tracks every time I pass by, because it was planted in sunflowers last summer, and now in winter the spent flowerheads — hundreds of them — float eerily on their bare, filigreed stalks. On a misty gray day they look otherworldly. “If you build it, they will come,” I think to myself, imagining a gathering of buntings, grosbeaks, cardinals, finches, and chickadees, even though the winter sky above me is circled only by crows.