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  Circle Central

by Dave Yanko

Harold Fisher bends down and plucks a head of wheat from one of the flattened stalks lying in a counterclockwise spiral.
The large circle at Viscount is only a whistle away from the town.
The large circle at Viscount is only a whistle away from the town.
The retired farmer rolls it firmly between his palms, deftly separating the grain from the chaff while pondering the mystery at his feet.

"I have no idea what could do this," says Fisher, pointing out the wheat within the crop circle appears to have matured normally. "Some say it's wind. But I've never seen the wind do this."

The location is a stubble field several hundred metres (yards) south of Viscount's one remaining grain elevator. The largest circle is about 12 metres in diameter (40 ft). The other one is slightly smaller and located 30 metres to the south.

Although the circles have been much visited since their discovery more than three weeks earlier, each retains a distinct circular form and nothing connects them but the combine tracks created by the farmer who found them during harvest. Fisher has a good point: If the circles were created by a whirlwind or twister, it behaved in a most unusual manner.

He reported the circles to the StarPhoenix newspaper in Saskatoon, located 70 kms (40 miles) to the west of Viscount on the Yellowhead Highway. He thought doing so
Harold Fisher
Harold Fisher
might help solve the mystery. What it did, however, was bring ribbing from neighbors who told him the circles are much more prevalent than Fisher realizes. Most people just don't report them for fear of being ridiculed.

In the 10 years ending in 1999, 38 of the 109 crop circle incidents reported in Canada (many reports involve more than one circle) occurred in Saskatchewan, according to statistics compiled by the Canadian Crop Circle Research Network (formerly Circles Phenomenon Research Canada). In 1999, 10 of the 20 Canadian reports involved Saskatchewan circles and half of those came from Midale, a town located midway between Estevan and Weyburn in the southeast part of the province.

CCCRN's website says Saskatchewan has become the ‘Wiltshire or Hampshire' of Canada, a reference to areas of Britain where crop circles seem to sprout like dandelions. And so, too, do the allegations of trickery and hoaxing.

Circle investigators acknowledge some of the incidents are faked, but contend most are not created by pranksters. People who've taken a first-hand look at a crop circle would be hard pressed to disagree. A ‘real' crop circle reflects too much complexity and precision to be the product of a hoax, and no natural phenomena are known to leave such ‘footprints'. Where views may diverge sharply is in some of the theories that purport to explain the mystery.

Wayne Kingdon, who farms in the southeast part of the province near Rocanville, was involved  in one of the more interesting crop circle incidents in recent years. It was August, 1996, and he and employee Bob Langley had been putting in long hours during harvest when Langley came across two circles in a field 11 kms (7 miles) from town.

The spiral weave of a crop circle can vary in complexity and number of layers.

"Everybody said: ‘You guys made them just to get publicity'," Kingdon said in a phone interview. "Well first of all, it was right during harvest. Who in the hell would have had time to do it? And for them to be that perfect? I don't know how that could be done."

Kingdon said wheat within the circles was bent down to the ground and woven into a counterclockwise spiral. He said stones and pebbles underneath the compressed plants showed no signs of being subjected to weight or movement. And although he can't be positive about this, he believes the circles were no more than a day old when discovered. That would mean the wheat stalks were straw, rather than the flexible stems seen in spring and early summer, when they were bent.

"We went by there the night before. Mind you, we weren't looking for anything," he said, adding it was a clear and moonlit night. "But they were in a spot that it would have caught your eye."

Kingdon knew the circles were investigated by a crop circle researcher, although he never heard the results of the testing. According to the report now posted on the CCCRN website, soil from the Rocanville circles contained a much higher magnetic content than soil samples taken from outside of the circles. Researchers say the higher magnetic readings are common features of crop circles.

Nine circles found a year ago in two fields in the Outlook-Conquest region reveal physical changes to plant stalks also said to be common to the circle phenomenon. Three of the circles were discovered by Linda and Ken Mann while swathing on land owned by Ken's father. Linda recalls it was about 6 on a pleasant August evening when she drove to the field to help Ken fix some machinery and deliver supper.

"Afterwards (Ken) said ‘You may as well come for the first round with me'," Mann recalled in a phone interview. "We came up over a little rise, a little knoll, and there they were. They were beautiful. They were perfect. Perfectly round."

The other six circles were discovered around the same time by members of the nearby Dinsmore Hutterite Brethren. One circle in each group bore a ‘tail' that made it resemble the biological symbol for woman. Mann, a high school history teacher in the region, took an interest in the circles. She did some research of her own and even helped the CCCRN gather samples for testing.

-- courtesy Judy Arndt ©
Deformities in barley stem nodes from a crop formation in the Edmonton, AB, region.

Gord Sopczak, the CCCRN representative in Edmonton who investigated the Outlook-Conquest circles, says tests carried out in the United States show plant stalks in the circles suffered damage to their growth nodes, or joints.

"There were definitely blown nodes in the formation on the Hutterite land," Sopczak said in a phone interview.

He said circle researchers believe this damage is caused by a quick burst of microwave radiation that heats the plants when the circle is being created. ‘Plasma vortex' is the term he uses to describe the dynamic involved in the creation of crop circles.

Mann thinks the circle phenomenon could be connected to the Earth's electromagnetic grid. And while she knows some circles have been shown to be fakes, she doesn't believe that's much of a problem in Saskatchewan.

"I know one thing: I know I didn't do it. And I can't see anybody in Saskatchewan doing it. . . Ken and I took a good look and as far as we could tell there was absolutely no path, there was nothing leading into (the vicinity of the circles) and nothing leading out."

Around the same time the circles in the Outlook-Conquest district appeared, a very large and curious circle formation was discovered near Esterhazy, in the southeast part of Saskatchewan. Reporter Terri Eger was working for the Esterhazy Miner-Journal when a woman came into the paper to report the find.

- courtesy CPRC
Illustration of the Esterhazy triple dumbbell formation

"I'm a skeptic," says Eger, now with the Yorkton Review. "So I was wondering about this. But it was so perfect. Everything was woven down just so."

The largest circle in the triple dumbbell measured 23 metres (75 ft) in diameter and it was surrounded by a ring less than a metre (3 ft) wide. A three-metre pathway connected the large circle to another one about four metres in diameter, which in turn was connected by a longer pathway to a third circle slightly larger than one metre in diameter.

Esterhazy is home to a large potash mine. Eger knew potash mine shafts can run horizontally for miles and miles. So she checked with mine officials to see whether any mining activity was occurring beneath the circle site. There was no shaft in the vicinity.

She said in a phone interview the entire experience gave her ‘a very eerie feeling'. She says she found herself thinking ‘maybe this was created by some sort of spaceship or something'.

The CCCRN's Sopczak would not disagree.

He believes the energy creating crop circles belongs to ‘an intelligent, creative force that's controlled from another dimension'.

Crop circles, according to Sopczak, are a form of communication from this other dimension.

What are they trying to tell us?

"I believe what they're trying to tell us is to focus on the higher, love vibration,' he says, adding that's the only way for humankind to progress.

Whether sentient beings or natural phenomena are responsible for the creation of crop circles, some form of energy is creating designs in farmers' fields. And observing one first hand can't help but leave even the skeptical among us feeling strange.

As reporter Eger puts it: "I was almost looking over my shoulder and wondering if there's some sort of alien behind the hill, watching me."

Saskatchewan crop circles can be reported to Beata Van Berkom, Saskatchewan representative for the CCCRN.

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