Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Leaf With All the Colors of Autumn In It

Found on the street and scanned on my scanner.

Well, maybe it needs a bit more of brown.

I like the decay and the brokenness.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Our State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass

You can pretty much bet that when I say I’m done with a subject (as I said in my last post that I was done with the topic of wild grasses), I will immediately find something fascinating to say about that topic.

Yesterday my daughter was reading a copy of the State of Washington Voter’s Pamphlet which has all the Washington symbols (bird, song, gem, boat, etc.) printed on the cover and I learned that we have a state grass: bluebunch wheatgrass.

Curious to know more about it, I went looking and found a website that features a good description and a photograph of bluebunch wheatgrass. The website features activities relating to bluebunch wheatgrass, including growing it in your garden. I realized that I’ve seen a lot of bluebunch wheatgrass while driving around eastern Washington.

Many years ago I wrote a story for my daughter called “Chester Chases Swallows in the Sagebrush,” about the time we let our dog out of the car on a deserted part of I-90 (the highway between Spokane and Seattle) and he took off running. I think the correct title for the story should probably be “Chester Chases Swallows in the Bluebunch Wheatgrass.”

Speaking of state anythings, did you realize that many states have state dances? Most of them that have a state dance, list “square dance” as their dance. Washington does. Boring. Some are obvious. Hawaii has the Hula. Louisiana the Second Line. Virginia has the Virginia Reel. Both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania list the Polka. Some are not. Ohio and the Charleston? And some are interesting. New York has Lindy Hop. California has West Coast Swing. The Carolinas claim the Shag. And Texas claims the Texas Two-Step (although I might also nominate the Texas Push). The most amazing thing is that I know most of these dances (except the Hula).
I found all of these on Wikipedia,
which also has a list of the state grasses, in case you want to find the grass for your state:

Photograph: Loren St. John @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Last Word in Grass

The other day I was browsing a website I love for its vintage patterns, and I found a photograph of a dress made out of grass. The designer is Robin Barcus, an artist who is currently doing a project which involves creating a dress for each of the fifties states.
This very beautiful grass dress is called Willow Creek Dress in Wyoming, 2006
It perfectly combines two topics I have been exploring in the last month: wild grasses and flower art.

Meanwhile, I found another blogger, the pseudonymously named Henry Thoreau, who has committed himself to a year-long project of identifying wild grasses in his hometown, San Francisco. He is doing exactly what I hoped to be doing and with much more skill and success. We share similar appreciations for the way wild grass prevails in the city landscape and our annoyance at the way modern landscapers plant ornamental grasses in straight rows of clumps.

Henry Thoreau also mentions another blog on wild grasses which is not quite as personal as his writing, but it does provide some awesome photographs and information about wild grasses.

Here are some books that Henry recommended for identifying wild grasses:
Lauren Brown's Grasses (best for the East Coast)
Manual of Grasses for North America, Utah State University Press
In Full View: Three Ways of Seeing California Plants by Glenn Keator and Linda Yamane, with illustrations by Ann Lewis

Because Henry is doing such a good job of finding, identifying and writing about wild grasses, I’ve decided to end my grass identification project (at least for this year, and with the option to take it up again if inspired by Henry’s posts) and focus on other topics. If you are fascinated by wild grasses, I suggest subscribing to Henry’s blog (I will be!).