grass, like dogs at the gates

by tobias crabtree

this morning i watched a robin wrestle a huge worm out of the turf in front of the farm. those robins are little savages. they hunt by sound, tilting their little heads this way and that until they have triangulated the crawlings of the earthworm. snap. i’ve noted that they rarely miss. hawks miss regularly. lions miss all the time. even sharks miss, but a miss on the part of the savage robin is few and far between.

i have avoided news lately. i don’t want to argue over whether the world is warming naturally or whether it’s because of too much human activity. i feel dread when i talk to the people from southern chile and they tell me about glacier grey, where i worked for one glorious season, and how it has retreated miles from where i remember it. i don’t want to see someone’s face turn red when i give my opinion (which hardly matters at all and, if it does matter, probably matters only to me…and i’m not sure if it does matter to me) about the whatever or the whoever. life is really short, i mean it is really, really short. the old timers tell me about when they were young and i see the twinklings of yesterday. just yesterday, it seems, i was hopping fences and running wild towards the pond on the hill just past the cottonwoods. (i still hop fences and run wild, it’s just a little more carefully…and that pond was buried under a football field and the cottonwoods were chopped and made into mulch.) my friend read to me yesterday from some news site. she said that about 12,000,000 people believe that the US govt. is run by “lizard people”.  now, i’m not sure what that means exactly and i’m not sure the statistic is valid, as they often aren’t, but i think i’m not that worried about that. it would be at least a little bit exciting to realize that there are lizard people out there and i think i would understand better the miscommunication that seems so prevalent between the government and the common man (me and probably you). i think lizards might make less of a mess of things. i’m not sure about lizard-people, the “people” part bothers me. just lizards for me, thank you. but yeah, i avoid the news quite often, i’d rather watch those savage little robins.

the rain from two days ago has the grass glowing an electric green. the shoots are just out of the ground and they are waiting. there is a knowledge in their DNA, it is ancient and complete, it tells them to wait. they are millions or more. they wait, like dogs at the gate, to run. oh, and when they go, they go! the grasses pay no attention to the fences nor the steeps. they grow wherever they find purchase. their roots run, their slender bodies slip in the wind as they race toward the sun. they become the beds for the deer and the bear and the two legged walker. of course, man has tamed ’em and shaped ’em and mowed ’em, but they long to be free. they don’t need to be tended. i love the giant meadows of grass that grow in the aspen-choked benches of colorado. they will surely sing for you if you go there and bend your ear to them.

when i was a kid i went to a huge field of grass with my cousins. i think it was in montana. i remember running into it, i was barely able to see over the tops as the world swayed to and fro in the country wind. immediately a game of hide-and-go-seek ensued. i laid down in the grass and smelled the world down close to where the roots hold tight. i remember my hands down in the dead grass and then looking up at the blue skies that were so busy herding clouds. i remember wondering why anyone would ever want to do anything else but that.

that same little boy lives inside me. i’m him. it’s weird but true and, if you were to see me, you might not believe that i was ever a little boy. that grizzly grey beard under the wrinkled-up eyes make it tough;but i still believe in some of the same stuff. i still think maybe we should all run out into the wild grass and lay down and smell the world…way down deep, where the roots hold tight. yeah, that’s it…go. go do it.