Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Images of Grass and the Prairie

I’ve been thinking about grass and grasses this summer—lawns and prairies—ornamentals and natives. I’m not a huge fan of lawns. They’re a lot of work. And, there’s a lot of pressure to match your neighbor’s lawn height. People have told me that gardening is more work than a lawn, but when I see people on their hands and knees digging dandelions and pulling quack grass and crab grass and pieces of clover and violets, I think they’re wrong. In a garden, once pulled the weeds, you’re done! In a lawn, you still have to get out the mower.

When we planted the community garden, the city had not yet cut the grass on the knoll and it was between knee and thigh high. As I carried plants (and later buckets of water) from my car to the garden, I imagined pioneers in long pants and dresses walking along side covered wagons in grass of a similar height.

The view from my office overlooks a highway embankment and ramp. The embankment is covered with various grasses and prairie plants (monarda, ratibida, rudbeckia, oxeye daisies, bergamot, and knapweed). The colors and textures are mesmerizing some afternoons. The grass and plants are waist tall in places on the embankment. The same plants and grasses fill the fields on the way to the community garden by the office. The aroma from the grasses and wildflowers is intoxicating. I couldn’t imagine being a pioneer walking through grasses and flowers this tall. It would be almost like swimming in Jello – lots of effort.

A friend and her daughter just returned from DeSmet, South Dakota, where they were visiting the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder—complete with stay in a covered wagon. In one photo, the daughter is standing in a field of waist high wildflowers in period dress. It’s exactly what I had imagined.

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