online: 24 may 2007
modified: 23, 24 may 2007

23 may 2007 across sloping lawns

20:27 ...a sunny evening... shadows of trees are extending slowly across sloping lawns... still grey clouds become pink as the setting sun becomes less dazzling and more golden... i see two or three horizons, one behind the other, each formed by a line of trees, the spaces between them being misty and lighter in colour... three birds fly irrregularly across the distant sky... a park keeper's pickup moves slowly from gate to gate as he locks up for the night... the sun has turned red and the shadows have spread over all the grass and the trees on this side of the park... a slight breeze blows across my face and i put on a pullover... a blackbird moves across the grass before me in short runs, between which it looks around or listens for something... i know not what...

...nearly everyone has left now and i proceed towards the nearby forest which is not closed at night... but the pulled muscle in my leg becomes more painful again... so i return by bus instead of walking in the forest...

...on the way back i pick a piece of grass that is already in bloom... each grain has a hair-like spike about 3cm long... and now i attempt to identify it from a handbook*... my guess is that it is Meadow Barley, but it could be something else... to identify with certainty you have to learn more than 5 pages of technical names for various parts and features of grass plants and a logical system for distinguishing the many kinds... and as i think of that i am reminded of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman's name, not only for what we and the botanists call 'blades' of grass, but for his book of poems about 'everything'...

...and now, having written this, i remember Nick Routledge and the essays he sends me re food not lawns and the ethics of gardening...

When i sent this page to Nick he replied with a link to an earlier and more complete version of his article Finding Work that Works includes links to other essays by him and members of the 'food not lawns' collective in Oregon.

*C E Hubbard, Grasses, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1954... he was in charge of the collection of grasses at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, London.

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