Like Persephone, I spend long stretches of time in the dark chambers of the underworld, periodically coming out into the light of day and human society for a season. My own personal underworld has been constructed partly by the rhythms of academia and partly by my own doing, with the result that I spend considerable stretches of time toiling away like a mole digging through solid rock, trying to find a little soft spot where I can surface for a while and catch my breath. This beautiful morning is one of those brief times when I can pop my head out, sniff the fresh air, and wave to you from my blog with my grimy mole-paw.
It’s warm and sunny in the Pacific Northwest, but definitely getting to be fall. Last night we went for a walk and were practically physically assaulted by the smell of bone-dry grass and weeds, brought out by the touch of cool dampness rising from the nearby wetland. At intervals along the way there was the unmistakable musky, jammy smell of ripe blackberries. Even though I couldn’t see them, I know exactly where I would go this weekend if I wanted to pick blackberries and had the time to do so.
For some reason, everything feels peaceful and “right” to me when the air is dry, the sky is clear, and the grass is dry and tawny-brown. I’m not a fan of green grass. I remember last spring walking across the highly manicured, damp, cool, green lawn at the Seattle Center in flip-flops and suddenly thinking to myself, “This grass feels dead!” There’s something a little morbid about your feet being touched by anything so damp and cold. Grass like that usually has a hovering smell of death, too, a combination of vegetation that is too unnaturally green, and earth that is too full of fertilizer and whatever other chemicals are sprayed on perfect, green lawns to kill everything but the grass.
I won’t get into the ecological issues related to the obsession with green lawns today, just the aesthetics. In a part of the world where there are so many green trees and plants in summer and so many evergreen trees and plants all year round, we are constantly surrounded by green on green. To me, the dry, brown grass of late summer is a welcome break from the sight of way too much green.
[Photos of green lawn, dry grass and star-nosed mole from Wikimedia. Blackberry photo is mine.]