In late fall and early winter I love to find a patch of grasses on a sunny day, and just sit, watch, and reflect. I used to hate winter with what I perceived to be its bleakness. I would long for spring and the first showing of green things pushing up through the soil and on the tips of trees. Winter used to give me the “blues” but I have learned to turn the blues into something golden. I once was lost in winter, but now I am found. I used to be blind, but now I see. Amazing grass did that for me.
Grasses are a great contradiction - delicate but hardy – from seed head to root. The feathery seeds ready to be carried in the wind belie the strong roots that can dig down ten feet into the ground in search of water. In the right conditions, some grasses can grow to ten feet high, and reseed year after year. The root systems in native grasses actually add organic matter to the soil.
Native grasses provide habitat for insects, mammals and birds all year round. If you have enough time and sit quietly, you will see many visitors to your grassy area. In fall, blue damsel flies stick out in a field of yellow stalks as they grab on and wave in the wind. In winter, a rabbit timidly peeks through the golden stalks, his curiosity greater than his thoughts of safety. If you are lucky, you might see a flash of yellow from a meadowlark, or the soft sky blue of a blue bird balancing on a nearby twig.
Observing these critters amidst the gentle grass gives me time to ponder natural things and the interrelationship of species. When tall grass prairies covered millions of acres of our land, the Osage understood this relationship. They believed that knowledge came from observation and awareness. In their search to understand nature, they realized the need to protect it. Settlers discovered many uses for prairie grass, including using the intricate root systems found in the soil to build their sod houses. Today, there are many who work with native prairie grasses to be grown as energy crops to make ethanol. Amazing!
If you want to perk up this winter, take a hike to a place with native grasses. Sit a while. Observe. Think. As the silence is broken only by the golden shafts of grass rustling in the wind, and you observe the glowing seeds hanging on but ready to float through the air, I promise you will be refreshed. You will feel the healing grace God intended for you by observing the wonders of nature found in a stand of amazing grass.
“We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, then when we first begun.”