The smell should give the horror away. Instead it triggers all the joys of relative summer idleness. The smell of fresh cut grass isn’t an invitation to hurry up, grab some shade and an ice cold beer and listen to Ernie Harwell, Red Barber, or Vin Scully call the balls and strikes of baseball while the cumulus clouds build in the late afternoon sky.
The smell of grass is a chemical release by a plant having its growing tip sliced off. It is the smell of a wound. It is a warning to its kin, those who speak the language of the chemical release, that doom is imminent. That sweet, lush smell, enhanced in the summer humidity, is the smell of decapitation.
The grass tribe didn’t enter into a consensus contract with the human tribe offering weekly decapitation in exchange for worldwide spreading across lawn after lawn. No. We just took the plants with the characteristics we sought and made them subject to our privilege. Made them subject to our breeding, our seeding, our cutting, and, dependent upon our watering and feeding, our death sentence to grass when we decide it doesn’t deserve that care.
We make the grass to our whim, with a level of lawn management inflexibility and rigor that belies the rareness of true appreciation and the ease of habituation that commonly leads the enslavement to simply be another chore in maintaining levels of expected appearance and structure in our lives.
We make the grass a monospecies desert, as we make our food crops, our forests. Row by row, plant by plant of rigorous straight line sameness, unfavorable to the mélange of life that thrives in the random expression of the naturally occurring. Does the grass feel this isolation as painful as well? Easy for us to assume plants aren’t sensitive to the his and can’t feel, but if the comparative harm of the grasses to world versus that of human were considered fairly, it is us who are insensitive and lack feeling. How easily we attribute inability to feel to those we seek to exploit.
We enslave the grass and either directly inflict the harm, or, so far removed from our attachment to our choices, hire someone else to harm it. We don’t cut our grass, not because of any threat to either karma or awakening to the suffering of others, but because we, as the grass, are enslaved. To the status of hiring lawn service. To the trappings of free time: tv, shopping, activities of self-care or personal aggrandizement. Enslaved to the expectations and peer pressures of society, of civilization.
With every step, I beg pardon for the grass I slice with the cheap rotary cutting mower. For the grass I trample, I ask repentance . I offer food and water in balance for my unforgivable thoughtlessness at enslaving and then harming. Every time I smell fresh cut grass, I pause and gulp and open myself to the pain of the enslaved little brother who makes my lawn.