Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sweet Grass and Sick Hot Hay

A continuation of the post titled "Mercy"

  sweet grass...
    The grassy areas surrounding the farm were littered with (what I call) chamomile grass. When I walked my little bare feet in the fields, the smell of honey and apples would spring from the earth. This chamomile grass had a wonderful, soft feel, almost like a tiny, fuzzy succulent. I can't help but smile when I smell chamomile. (hey, that rhymes, if you pronounce it wrong!)

sick hot hay...
I grumpily skulked along side the wagon. All the adults were in the field with pitchforks in hand. A number of days before, the hay had been cut and left on the ground to dry. 

Today was the day it needed to be moved to the barn for storage. The sun was hot, the air was muggy, and our activity was sending the bugs flying angrily in the air and around my face. I couldn't have been more miserable!

I watched as the adults threw forkfuls of hay into the wagon, first filling the corners and then the middle. This enabled them to stack it very high before taking it back to the barn. There they would again use their forks to unload it. It was a time consuming process that was an eternity to my four year old self. 

I wondered why I was even there. It could have been because all hands were needed for the work, which left no one to look after me. It could have been to teach me my place in the world, to pluck out any seed of entitlement that might have begun to take root in my soul.
The smell made me feel sick. The sun baked the grass until the sweetness was overpowering. Its rays reflected off the dry grass, burning my eyes. I will never forget that day. 

For years and years, after leaving New Hampshire, I couldn't bear to look at a sunny field. It does sound silly, I know, but it is true. Riding in the car, passing a sunny field, would strike a chord of dread in me. My eyes would fervently search for the shade of a tree to counteract the effect.

 I am amazed that I live, and love living, in Arizona. The sun always shines. I think it has forgiven me for hating it all those years.

When I studied with The School of Natural Healing, working to become a Master Herbalist, I had a question answered that had been in the back of my mind since that hot hay day. We studied the chemical constituents of many herbs.

Coumarin was the answer. 

It is the constituent responsible for the sweet smell of freshly cut grasses.  


The Baby Catcher said...

What a great journal entry of childhood memories. You write like you are present in that moment, and your writings make me feel I am right there with you.°Ü°

Sarah said...

I remember the itchy hot work we went through getting the hay up, but you've forgotten the wonderful reward which always comes. We always had something to look forward to when we had really difficult work to do. After this activity we all went to the nearby river and bathed. This particular time some tourists from NY came drifting by in there canoes. We all sank down to our necks in the water and watched quietly. Soon they spotted us and we all had a good laugh.

where is everyone?