"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?...
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)