Monday, June 23, 2008

You Just Had to Be There

I have confirmed that I am a little bit crazy. Today I noticed little puffs of pollen coming from tall grass with little yellow flowers. It is amazing how much pollen comes from one grass plant.
Something came over me when I looked out over the fields. I thought of herds of Buffalo on the great plains. I thought of the Harvey Dunn paintings of the prairies. I thought of pioneers in covered wagons in grass as high as a horses back. I thought of sod houses. I thought of a fourteen year old pioneer boy and his mother in southwestern Minnesota. The mother made the boy plow furrows around their home on the prairie because she could see smoke in the distance. They barely survived a prarie fire.
I didn't think about the fact that I'm off the charts for grass allergies. I thought I would make a video of pollen coming off the grass. After the close-up of little puffs coming from the tiny yellow grass flowers I would raise the camera from the delicate individual plant and pan across the vast waving fields of grass to demonstrate the scale of it all.
I went to the field with my camera and shook several grass stalks and the pollen issued forth. I went into the field with grass up to my neck and shot video of the grass at all angles. I squatted down and got shots of the the grass contrasted against the blue sky. I panned across the field, lingering on patches of bright purple or yellow flowers, subtle in the distance.
Having had allergies for some time I had some idea I may be uncomfortable later, so I held my breath as long as possible. But I couldn't do that for an entire hour.I have confirmed it is grass that I am allergic to. A video camera in the hands of someone such as myself can't begin to capture the colors and textures in a field of grass. The video is quite dull - just shots of green fields with no obvious subject. Individual stalks of grass being roughly shaken by a disembodied hand. The audio of my little shoot had some very nice bird and bug sounds in between my amazingly loud sniffles of my best allergy attack of the year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Path in the Grass

I promised myself I would hang sheetrock tonight in the garage after dinner. I hung one sheet and started to feel restless. It did not seem to be right to work inside a garage on an evening like this. Well, I thought, I could mow the grass, a noisy chore, but at least I would be outside and still get something usefull done..I found myself on the riding mower. Without a glance or a thought I steered away from our yard and out across the fields. Reasoning that I was mowing a path to walk on later.
I drove on, mowing across the field far enough that I wondered how many miles per gallon a riding lawn mower gets. As I mowed I thought of one of my grandpa's who had a bad leg. He would drive his lawn mower around the yard, out to the mailbox or up to the chicken coop. Many of my memories of him include a lawn mower. I've heard of old people, not completely in their right mind who escape on golf carts or lawn mowers driving to some unknown distant and more satisfactory place to be collected later by fussing relatives who shake their heads in amusement or dismay.
I think they, the escapees, are not addled. They are seeing the world from another point of view. As I drive this train of thought leaves my mind. I am noticing my surroundings. The sun is low near the horizon and halfway behind a cloud. This evening light has magic in it. I have seen it many, many times but it is always new. Everything near and far seems to be focused and sharp beyond reason. I imagine I can see individual leaves on distant trees. The texture of the high grass draws my eyes and invites me to touch. I notice there are different kinds of grasses with different kinds of seed tops. I see the verigated leaves of clover and the flowers on the vetch are very purple as if the color eminates from inside the blossom . I look at the clouds in the sky and see a towering thunderhead floating by like a giant battleship, the top illuminated by the setting sun.
Suddenly I feel foolish trapped on the noisy lawnmower. My only thought is to hurry home and park it so that I can return to the fields on foot and in silence. My goal is to catch the last light of day on the fields of grass. I reach home and the sun is fading fast. No time to convince someone to come with me. Even though our house is surrounded by every kind of grass, I had to get back to the same place where I first noticed the evening light. I took a camera and started to run on the trail I mowed. As I ran through the field camera in hand I could smell summer and feel the evening comming. Fresh mowed grass mingled with the fragrance of clover blossoms and a thousand other plants unknown to me. Warm summer air on my face would suddenly give way to cool moist air that felt like evening, then back again to warm fragrant air of summer. In the morning the fields would be coverd with dew, cool fog hanging in the low spots. I felt it before it could be seen.
Tonight I managed to hang one piece of sheetrock and mowed a path through the middle of one hundred acres of grass and watched the sun set while a cloud that looked like a battleship sailed by. Who would have known it could be such a productive evening.