What’s Grass Got to Do With It?

March in Maine is like trying to squeeze that last bit of toothpaste out of the container: The only way a person is going to see spring is to endure March.

Although this March has been glorious so far, warm days with only the occasional dirty hill of snow shrinking like the Wicked Witch of the East. Whenever my four-year-old daughter and I pass a mound of the white stuff, we shout out, “Thy time is nigh at hand.” It’s a fun game to play until the flowers begin to bloom.

And since it’s March and the grass is beginning to green up, what better time than to wax lyrical about grass. Without it we wouldn’t have meadows or greenswards or parks. No herding animals either. Or even us with our lawnmowers.

I’m not a religious man, but there’s something evolutionary about the smell of mown grass. Maybe it has something to do with the idea that our ancestors must have stood agape at those herding animals with long legs and hooves thundering across the savannahs. They must have smelt the grass, so to speak, and got an instant idea: We could hunt those big meaty animals. Presto! The seed was planted. And so began ritual and magic. Killing and eating. And organized religion sprung from all this and has altered the very texture of our souls like the roots of grasses the earth.

And grass is the superhero of the plant world, withstanding blades and long teeth and passing feet. Its only Kryptonite is us humans with our insidious habit of paving over with concrete — the final solution to the age of grass.

Plus those blades of grass can harness energy from the sun and turn it into energy. Which is an amazing feat when you think about it. It’s like all the blades of grass are tiny straws sucking down a fiery ball.

In fact, grass can be linked to the start of our civilization. If we didn’t have grass to spread out a blanket on and recline and dream, we’d never have had cities or new ideas or science or art.

Thank Darwin for grass and all its 10,000 species.

CURRENTLY READING

The Battle of the Sun by Jeanette Winterson. Fantastic YA Fantasy from a writer I have always loved. This one is set in seventeenth-century London and stars Jack Snap as the chosen one a dark magus needs in order to turn the city into gold. Other characters include the feisty Silver from Tanglewreck, a koan-sounding dragon, an oracular Mother Midnight, a sunken king in a big glass tank, Wedge and Mistress Split, the creature Sawn in Two (who make me think of Master Peake’s Lady Clarice and Cora Groan), and the real-life alchemist John Dee. It’s a raucous, swashbuckling tale with Winterson’s characteristic skills of incantatory words, twisting plots, and wonderful passion for language.

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO

A Miles Davis collection I picked up at Goodwill for a $1.

Crush by OMD. Not my favourite OMD album (that would be Architecture and Morality). But this one is synth at its best.

To Lose My Life by White Lies. I’m digging this album from the 3-piece London band. It’s like Julian Cope meets Phantom of the Opera. So good.

Wilder by Teardrop Explodes. I blame White Lies for making me dig this out of my vinyl collection and drop the needle on it.  It still sounds fine after all these years and St. Julian’s many odd transformations.

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