Grass: a side of oats with music

Back-lighted side-oats gramma grass in the far field (October 2011).

With recent rains, grasses re-sprout. Side-oats gramma grass yields its oats along the stem and when the sun back-lights the plant the seeds appear as golden beads hanging about a string. I see several broad patches of gramma in my far field. The gramma seems to congregate as a family, moving over the years a few yards to the northwest as if on slow journey to Salt Creek, a tenth-of-a-mile away.  I hear wind sough* through grass as it does through mesquite and oak.

When I shred brush in the far field, I cannot — though I thought I would — mow the gramma.  Gramma is now family, a natural plant that has created an art space in the far field, a sentient being that propagates and rears its young in front of me.  I see Star, my paint gelding, browse through the family, munching on a few stalks and oats, but not many stalks, for the far field is lush and verdant and full of life.

In the 1950s, as a high school student in agricultural classes, we identified gramma, johnson and bluestem grasses, among many others.  Above all, I remembered the gramma and bluestem, dreaming that someday I would have a field of these species that I could see and touch.  At the time I took the high school classes from Mr. Bell who could hold a scorpion by the tail, I thought I would use grasses entirely for grazing purposes.  That was then.  I now want to see the grasses first, and then allow a brief grazing of cattle and horse upon the gramma that blows in the wind and provides reeds for wind-music that I hear and golden beads that droop and sway with southern winds out of Mexico.

Odd it is, I think, that I have golden-beaded grass with a side of oats that sings.


Notes, corrections and additions:

*sough (suf, sou), Middle English is swough, Anglo-Saxon is swogan meaning to sound.  Definition is a soft, low, murmuring, sighing or rustling sound.  I can’t remember where I picked up this word way-back-when, but lately my reading of Patrick Leigh Fermor brought it up again.  The definition herein comes from my first collegiate college dictionary, c. 1960.  I still have the dictionary and it is taped up with duct tape about the binding.  I must do a post on my old books someday.



Filed under Plants and Shrubs, Recollections 1942-1966

5 responses to “Grass: a side of oats with music

  1. It’s so good to see that the fires are gone and the grasses are rejoicing!

  2. The gramma family on their slow journey to Salt Creek, your agricultural classes, the grass singing in the wind and the southern winds out of Mexico… this post has such a good feeling.

    I, too, have an old dictionary, a Merriam Webster, with duct tape on its binding. I would love to hear of your old books.

  3. Native grasses, herbs, and forbs enrich our landscape. Allowing them to return yields wonderful benefits as the natural ecosystem begins to repair itself. Field nesting birds, insects that haven’t been present for years, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians will rejoice as the native vegetation returns. And you will be in a natural laboratory, ripe with life to discover, see, hear, and feel. What could be better?

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