Voices In The Lawn

We once had a neighbor whom I didn’t know whether to shun, laugh at, protect myself against, or just enjoy his ideas. He was a college dropout and a tree-hugger. Oh, and he liked marijuana. Occasionally, I would see him lying on his front lawn and go check on his breathing. He was just reacting to an extended weed trip.

“What’re doing?” I asked him.

“Listening to the voices underneath the grass.”

The Shenandoah Valley farmer, Joel Saratin, is teaching me things I never gave much credence to. He didn’t give an altar call as I was reading, but I asked God to forgive me for being so ignorant and for not taking seriously agri-business environmentalists. And tree-huggers.

Do you know that a maple tree responds to a tree-tapping by sending sap to heal that wound which the maple syrup farmer will collect in a bucket? About 40 gallons of sap will become one gallon of maple syrup. The sap flow is consistent unless the wind blows. The tree feels the wind and stops the sap because a limb might be broken by the wind and a broken branch is a more serious wound than a hole in the tree trunk that will require the healing sap. The tree knows to store sap until the wind stops blowing—then the maple syrup fluid starts flowing again. Who knew?

The book of Genesis makes more sense when you know such things. And descriptions of Creation are more complex than I ever learned in Bible College or Seminary.

Think of yourself picking up a handful of healthy soil…

“…if you looked at this soil under an electron microscope, you might see a four-legged cow-looking thing with big floppy mandibles slogging through what looks like a swamp, grazing on ghoulish vegetation. All of a sudden you might see a six-legged interloper with a narwhal spear on his head run into the microscope frame and impale the cow-looking critter, sucking out its aqueous insides through the straw-spear.

“Before recovering from the shock of that violence, from the other side of the microscope frame charges a twelve-legged centipede-looking attacker with massive incisors that look like scissors on his head. He lops off the cow-looking dude’s head and gobbles it up into his tube-like body. The desiccated cow-like being vanishes into the marshy soil-scape, awaiting additional decomposition.

“Actually, soil…is a pulsing, thriving community of beings. Our cupped handful contains more beings than there are people on the face of the earth.”

Is that wild? Salatin is not finished:

“Now we know through the work at Stanford that these microscopic beings communicate. They actually have a language and respond to each other. They form alliances of symbiosis as well as predatory attack relationships.  (Page 51.)

“New research shows that trees in Africa being grazed by herbivores ping out a phenol message to change the chemical composition of the leaves to more bitterness.” (The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, Joel Salatin, [Faith Words, Hatchet Book Group, 2016] Page 53

“…more beings than there are on the face of the earth in your cupped hands.”

Think about that. Somebody said, “Worse than finding a spider in your bedroom is to lose the spider in your bedroom.” Your body has 3 trillion bacteria inside.” And there is worry about a spider?

If we don’t know what is living in communities on own front lawn, what else don’t we know? How about the spirit world? My next blog is going to…I don’t want you to miss it.

©2020 D. Dean Benton –Writer, Wonderer, Wheat-Tender.

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