Posts Tagged ‘grass’

There’s something comforting about seeing small and simple plants grow down the middle of my driveway.  I get the same feeling when I see grass growing through cracks in the sidewalk.   To me, these are testament to the power of small things and reminders of man’s inability to conquer the natural world. 

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
~ Hal Borland

Due to its simple form and presence at our feet, it’s all too easy to dismiss the power of grass.  Yet, its strength is in its numbers and its ability to persist despite being trampled on over and over again.  Below, the shadow of a fox trail appears in the grass behind Rainbow Haven beach.

Grass changes with the seasons and makes no futile attempt to hold strong against the wind.  It knows its limitations.  In the winter, it hunkers down under the snow and quietly waits for spring.  When sunshine and rain permit, grass seizes the opportunity to grow to great heights in just a short amount of time, confounding those tasked with mowing it down.

It’s most beautiful when at last it goes to seed. In the early morning light, the grass in the photos below looks like a magical mist rising in the forest.

Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness.
~ Jean Vanier

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autumn gold

It’s been half a century since gold was mined in Cow Bay.  Gold deposits here are part of the evidence that support the theory that this corner of Nova Scotia was attached to Africa prior to continental drift.  Today, the closest we have to gold is found in November’s plant life along the Salt Marsh Trail. 

These golden grasses and leaves exhude a warmth and richness that were not present earlier this fall.

the marsh in september

The Marsh in September

The goldening of the grasses takes place at the same time that the water turns a steel grey.  

marsh grasss nov

The colours look especially burnished in the morning sunlight.  Even when there is frost on the seaweed, there is a warm glow to the landscape.

frost in autumn

The few leaves remaining on the rosebushes that border the trail are also golden.  They stand in bright contrast to the brilliant red rose hips that were orange earlier in the season.

gold rosebush

Even the November sunrise seems more golden…

november sunrise

Which makes me wonder… why do we usually think of November as such a dull, dreary month?

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heart of the poppy copyright 2009 Amy-Lynn Bell

The heart of the poppy remembers. 

During the Napoleonic era,  it was first noticed that blood red poppies bloomed in fields that had seen battle.  Somehow, the earth remembered.  Later it was discovered that the chalk in the soil reacted with the lime left from the rubble  created during battles.  Regardless of the science, what is most important is that the poppies remembered.  Human activity did not go unnoticed by nature.

And if the earth can remember pain and suffering, I wonder, can it not also remember joy?

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

~ Kahlil Gibran

grass and moss

Does the grass remember the children who ran across it barefoot all those years ago?  Do the trees remember the boys who played their army games from their makeshift bases among them in the woods?  Now the boys are grown and war is no longer a game.   If the forest can remember, does it also long for their return?

old birch
Long after I am gone, and the trees and grass are still here, will they continue to hold the memories of the boys who played among them?  These boys who too quickly grew into men and travelled far from home?  And one who especially liked to run barefoot through the woods and is now serving in Afghanistan, a land known for its poppies, and the ravages of its war?  

I hope so.  But if the trees and grass forget, I’m sure the poppies that spring up every year in the front yard will remind them.

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sept marsh grass

Grass is the forgiveness of nature – her constant benediction.
Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal.
~ Brian Ingalls

The gradual fading of flowers at this time of year makes the presence of grasses more apparent on the landscape.  They’re suddenly everywhere in the salt marsh and their variety seems boundless.

marsh grass 1

Some are still holding on to their green hue, but the majority have turned golden.  They’ve gone to seed, and are awaiting the autumn winds to scatter them about the land.  Carried by the tides, those that are not eaten by birds in the colder days ahead will also travel far and wide.

marsh grass 2

Reeds and sedges are often also called grasses.  Each is easily identified:  grasses are flat, reeds are circular and hollow, while sedges are triangular.  Who would have thought something so simple could be both so beautiful and complex?

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

~ Henry Miller

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heron silhouette

Twilight reveals the silhouettes of things that are often hidden in complete darkness or light.  Suddenly, that which is commonplace and overlooked becomes apparent. The light at this time of day offers both mystery and revelation.

heron negative

One way to understand something better is to look at its opposite.  Exploring negative space and color negatives in art can reveal how we look at subjects in their relation to the space around them.  So often we allow ourselves to be distracted by familiar colors and arrangements. By looking at negatives, lines and shapes become apparent that are sometimes hidden in plain view.  Likewise in human nature, who your enemies are may indeed reveal more about you than the company you keep.

marsh grass

It’s fascinating how familiar elements in nature still have much so much to teach us about beauty, design and ourselves.  All we have to do is open our eyes.

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
~Aaron Rose

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A native love story set in North America provided the inspiration for this painting by the French artist Girodet. The Entombment of Atala had a profound effect on me when I first saw it as a teenager in the Louvre Museum.

atala inscriptionI was especially moved by the inscription on the wall of the cave which is easily discernible in the large painting, but barely visible in most reproductions.

J’ai passé comme la fleur.
J’ai seché comme l’herbe des champs.

Translated, it means ‘I have withered like the flower.  I have dried up like the grass of the fields.’

The ephemeral connection between humans and grass blew me away.

grass in woods

Especially when we’re young, we have a tendency to think that we will live forever.   As we age, we begin to take more notice of the change of the seasons and realize that old age and death eventually come to us all.

foxtail barleyThe bloom of spring becomes synonymous with the bloom of youth.  By the time we hit middle age, it becomes quite apparent that we are in the late summer of life, and that we too will eventually dry up and wither like the grass in the fields.

Yet every season in both nature and life offers a beauty of its own.  August days reveal the simple elegance of grasses on the landscape.

The Foxtail Barley shown at left is one that I find especially pretty.  However, it can be deadly if it finds its way into the hay meant for farm animals, as its tiny barbs are known to cause respiratory and digestive problems.


Despite its beauty when in bloom, grass serves its greatest purpose once it begins to dry and  go to seed.  It’s a comforting message of hope for those of us who wonder at times if the best of life might already be passed.

All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.
~ Isaiah 40:6

For more information on Chateaubriand’s early 19th century story of Atala and Chactas, see the Wikipedia post on Atala.

For more information about the painting, see The Entombment of Atala at the Louvre Museum.

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