Feilding, being the place where I spent the majority of my pre adult life, has more than a few special places for me. One of those places, perhaps the place, is Highfield Hill.
By rights it shouldn’t be one of my special places. It’s surprisingly unspecial. Highfield Hill’s real name is the Highfeild Hill Lookout, and is situated at the top of Highfield Rd.
To everyone in Feilding, though, it’s just Highfield Hill.
The lookout itself is nothing special, just a raised concrete block with a few handrails and a small garden. When standing on the lookout Feilding looks like a flat sunken raft full of houses hemmed in by the ranges on the right, and the hilly farming country on the left.
Back in high school when I needed a bit of time to myself I’d collect the dogs from the back yard and drag them up the road with me for a bit of pavement pounding and hard thinking. The dogs knew the way up there better than I did so usually once we were out of the traffic from town I’d drop the leads and let them pick their own way up the hill.
I took a lot of my photography assignments up the hill, there was something about how clear and calm it is up there makes it easier for me to concentrate.
Highfield Hill was the hill I tried to run up the time I decided to join the army so that I could play with guns and travel and have a purpose. It’s the hill that convinced me that perhaps I was better suited to a job that didn’t involve running. Or guns.
It was the first place I drove on my own after getting my restricted licence. It was the last place I drove on those crazy nights working at the supermarket when I couldn’t quite face going home to bed yet.
I climbed Highfield Hill on Sunday while I was back in Feilding. Maybe I wanted to feel something special. Maybe I looking for a connection to the land. Or perhaps I was hoping for one of the flashes on insight that I imagined I used to feel up there.
Instead there was nothing. The wind blew all the thoughts out of my head and I stood silently thinking about nothing and everything. There was no special connection. No reality check. No moment of inspiration. No flash of insight.
Then I realised that in all the times I climbed Highfield Hill in search of answers and insight, and connections, it never once happened. That’s not the point of the hill.
It’s more of a marker, or a rite of passage, or a workspace. There’s nothing special about that hill, and yet there is – for me anyway.
I stayed up there until my ears got cold, and then I tramped back down to the bottom of the hill feeling refreshed and windblown.