It was time, once again, for me to set up the patio (I am a little late this year). But before I can put out the table, chairs and so forth, I had to pull the weeds from the cracks between the pavers which many people spray with a kill-all herbicide because they hate this particular seasonal rite of spring but I like pulling out those wayward, misplaced orphans. I find it therapeutic.
Now last fall, while I was doing this weed-pulling project I started watching ants, which made the whole process, well - in short – longer.
The ants did not curry my attention this time so the chore went a lot quicker. But I did find myself humming, then singing, an old tune from my youth, ‘God bless the grass that grows through the cracks…’ as I yanked those tender bits of green from the patio pavers and smiled, almost a little sad that they had to go.
Back in 1969 Malvina Reynolds wrote a song made famous by folksinger Pete Seeger titled ‘God Bless the Grass’.
‘God bless the grass that grows through the crack.
They roll the concrete over it and try to keep it back.
The concrete get tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows through,
And God bless the grass.
The song has other verses but this is the one I have remembered for decades.
I do not know what the intention of the writer was but to me the song reflects the indomitable Spirit of Mother Earth and gives me the hope that, no matter what we do to her, she will always survive. Grass retakes what we cover up, hurricanes reclaim the shore that was once hers and in the wake of these natural occurrences we humans are the ones who look endangered.
So why should I feverishly protect the environment against insult if she is so strong? Because when I look around at my home, the water coming out of my faucet, the rug on my floor, the shingles on my roof, the glass on my windows, the bus that picks me up in inclement weather, the building I work in, the pillow I sleep on, the animals that have blessed my life – they all stem from the gifts of Mother Earth. In one way or another, everything I see has come from the earth. And, by the way, everything you see as well.
Surely we can put aside our usual gluttony and try to live with her and repay some of those gifts in the way of higher standards to protect her, before she no longer sees fit to bless us with them.
But I have faith that at some point we will see the light, and so I hum a little tune while I pull the green from between my pavers, certain in the knowledge that hope springs eternal in tiny blades of grass.
On a beautiful not-to-long-ago evening I took a short walk to the river where I perched myself on the bridge to catch the sunset. Even on the river with his ever-moving water the surface was quiet, the evening sun washee the water and sky alike in pinks, lavenders and oranges. Somewhere along the shore of darkening tag alders and birch brush the frogs had started to serenade their hopeful mates, a lone Blue Heron patiently fished in the shallows, reflecting a perfect image in the mirror-like water and beneath me the swallows gathered in a silent assault of the new hatched insects. A lovely spot to recharge myself to a peaceful place.
Then I became distracted.
I was watching those aerial acrobats dancing to the music of the Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs as they caught those bugs, one after another, with such ease. A sudden dip. A sharp updraft with a port swing. Skimming an inch above the water then cruising up, only to reverse direction and snatch another unsuspecting insect as it drifted into the swallow’s radar. They veered left and right, up and down, close together or far apart. The mastery of the hunt was mind-boggling. Beautiful little flits of dark blue swimming in the sky so in tune with their environment they seemed not to be part of it but the sky itself. They were the hunters and they tracked down big bugs, little bugs, bugs on the water, bugs in the air; all caught with such ease it seems to not be a hunt at all.
One of those bugs, a mosquito garnered my attention as it bit me on the forearm, completely destroying my sunset induced nirvana, so I smacked it. But I missed. I couldn’t even hit one of those bugs that was just sitting still on my arm! Not moving! And Swallow made it look so easy.
I would like to be that good at something...anything. And while I was standing on that bridge I tried to think of something I was as good at as Swallow was dancing with bugs.
I’m still thinking…..