1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What is the Grass?

"A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?....I do not know what it is any more than
he..." (from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, 1855)

I walk along the beach and smell the salt air
While Midwest soil
Makes my heart-sack boil--
With longing for wronging to bare?...
(Walk2Write, 5-14-2013)
It may be that I've waited too long to write about a recent turf-grass field trip to WFREC in Jay. I think the simple words that were forming about my impressions got lost somewhere along the road to Illinois and then back again to Florida.

I wanted to write something easy to read, something "out of hopeful green stuff woven," but the checkerboard plots of different grasses being trialed remind me of people I have known and will know.

They grow. They struggle. They reach for light while their stolon-like efforts at reaching out to the world get stifled. Trouble comes along. Sickness, pain, soul-drought, attacks, and setbacks follow. Weeds take over. Truth rings hollow--no longer filtered by a healthy root system. It washes away and takes nutrient-rich, toiled-for soil with it.

Nearby streams will grow turbid with dreams of a better life washed away in a flash flood of dashed expectations.

Then, something hopeful happens. Someone comes along and tends the leanness, the meanness of the soil. It is amended. Healing earthworms move in, leaving their castings behind them, cleaning the wounded, bruised, and battered dirt.
And the grass grows and grows and grows, making rich the soil again, supporting trees and life and filtering. Truth again.
"I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and
Remark, and say Whose?" (Leaves of Grass)  


  1. What an awesome comparison!!! God's beautiful hankerchief dropped...just lovely!

  2. A good comparison indeed.

  3. Dear Walk2write,
    this post shows me that I should read Walt W. again. And your analogy with sickness getting cured is very interesting! I saw in the Netherlands how they "earn" land by bringing grass before the marsh, and I saw in Sylt what happens when the sea munches it off.

  4. What a hopeful and inspiring message! I love this.
    Speaking of handkerchief, do you happen to know handkerchief tree? I saw it the other day and it really looked like white handkerchiefs are hanging from the leaves.

  5. I'm not sure if I should like grass or not. But the "perfect" herbicided pesticided grass of my neighbor makes me sick. Now I'm focusing on native plants and grasses...

  6. Thanks, Julie, Tina, and Claude. I wonder if some turf breeder will think to use "handkerchief" as a new varietal name? It sounds better than "centipede" anyway.

    Britta, I hope this post inspires some reading if nothing else. You can't go wrong with Walt. Sea munching on grass? Now you've given me something to think about.

    Cosmos, no, I've not seen a handkerchief tree but will investigate your link. Thank you!

    TB, before the field trip, I had some preconceived, not-so-nice notions about turf before the field trip. They were mowed down by convincing information. The perfect lawns do more filtering of pollutants (like nitrogen-rich dog doo-doo) than the poorly tended ones. Research at the Jay station proves it. There's nothing wrong with native plants and grasses, but if we're going to cut a swath through them to make way for our homes and pets, there needs to be an effective way to prevent polluting runoff into streams. Hence, the perfect lawn. Of course, I will never have one:(