The Headed Grass



Light and wind are running
over the headed grass
as though the hill had
melted and now flowed.
~Wendell Berry “June Wind”

It will soon be haying time, as soon as another stretch of clear days appears on the horizon.  We missed a haying window last week, and now are staring at 10 days of forecast rain and clouds.

The headed grass is growing heavier, falling over, lodged before it can be cut, with the undulations of moist breezes flowing over the hill.   It has matured too fast, rising up too lush, too overcome with itself so that it can no longer stand.  It is melting, pulled back to the soil.  We must work fast to save it.

The light and wind works its magic on our hill.  The blades of the mower will come soon to lay it to the ground in green streams that flow up and down the slopes.  It will lie comfortless in its stoneless cemetery rows, until tossed about by the tedder into random piles to dry, then raked back into a semblance of order in mounded lines flowing over the landscape.

It will be crushed and bound together for transport to the barn, no longer bending but bent, no longer flowing but flown, no longer growing but grown and salvaged.

It becomes fodder for the beasts of the farm during the cold nights when the wind beats at the doors.   It melts in their mouths, as it was meant to, as we are meant to melt and flow.







Raising the Lodged

After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.
Wendell Berry

When abundant grasses in our hay field were hit hard with heavy rainfall today, they collapsed under the weight of the moisture.  Thousands of 3-4 foot tall tender stems are now lodged and flattened in undulating waves of green, bent over as if to embrace the earth from which they arose.  If the rain continues as predicted this week, the grass may not recover, unable to dry out enough to stand upright again.  It is ironic to lose a crop from too much of a good thing– heavy growth does demand,  but often cannot withstand, a quenching rain.  The grass simply keels over in community, broken and crumpled, unsuitable for cutting or baling into hay, and will melt back into the soil again.

However–if there are dry spells amid the showers over the next few days, with a breeze to lift the soaked heads and squeeze out the wet sponge created by layered forage–the lodged crop may survive and rise back up. It may be raised and lifted again, pushing up to meet the sun, the stems strengthening and straightening.

What once was heavy laden will lighten;
what was silent could once again move and sing with the wind.