Saturday, July 17, 2004

Shorn and Shorn Again

I headed to the river early today, with camera, eager to identify a new thistle I'd seen emerging last week, and watch the further developments of the sexy, exotic gamagrass. A few spotted touch-me-nots -- orange spotted trumpets -- had emerged by the footbridge where the loosestrife were massing in their glorious cold magenta, and, on the other side of the bridge, tall groups of water hemlock had continued to open. As I rounded the corner, past the japanese knotweed with its new, white upcoiling flowers, I stopped in horror.

The first little meadow on the left had been shorn down to stubble. The curly dock, the chicory, the fleabane, the pigweeds, the queen anne's lace, were all slashed down in an anonymous, ugly buzzcut. I looked up the path. There was a vista of dull, flat, mowed lawn.

Aghast, I hurried toward the first of the two big, beautiful grassy meadows.

It was gone. All gone. Shorn to a flat stubblefield littered with drying clumps of hay. The grasses with their beautiful seedheads, the gangly sweet clover, the purple thistles and knotweeds, the fleabane, the daisys, the chicory, the queenanne's lace, the wierd and lovely medusan field garlics, the birdsfoot trefoils, the black-eyed susans, the rabbitsfoot clovers, the hoary alyssums -- all reduced to a flat, common waste.

I remembered standing at day's end in the bright, low sun amidst the chest-high grasses, watching them sway and undulate in the wind. I remembered crouching in them to peer closely at a leaf or flower -- the smell and touch of them. I remembered the sudden sound of birds and rabbits rushing through them.

All gone.

I stood in the middle of the shorn field. The stubble was dry and ugly. The litter was all the more visible. Bright, enticing, primary-colored junk-food wrappers caught the eye instead of the purple thistles or the yellow birdsfoot trefoil.

What can one do on such a place ? Play frisbee ? Jog past it while talking on a cell phone ? Ride a dirt bike over it ? Sunbathe on it ? Throw a gatorade bottle onto it ?

My weeks of watching the spring then the summer come to fruition end, long before the denouement, in a cropped, ugly trash field.

And since Blogger -- who giveth and taketh away with equal alacrity -- has apparantly decided to get rid of its simple "upload image" function, I can't share the scenes of decimation with you.

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