Friday, 28 June 2013

Slippery stuff, grass

Next Wednesday, 3 July, Marcia will be at The Harbour Bookshop in Mill Street, Kingsbridge. This is an unusual event as some of the Willa Marsh books that we had forgotten we had until I eventually unpacked all the books following our move about a year ago will be going on sale. Added to that, of course, Marcia is hoping to meet some of those of you who live near enough to make that possible.

Those of you who are at all interested in tennis will know that this is week one at Wimbledon. We are, of course, immensely proud that the All England Tennis and Croquet Club was the one that started off this whole business. You could, I suppose, describe it as a sport but when you see the open snarling mouth, more becoming on the face of a baboon than a human being, on the face of a young man who has just won a point or are watching two young women screaming at each other over the tennis net you are forced to wonder whether it is more of a gladiatorial contest than anything else. Was this the atmosphere during the ‛games’ held by the Romans when “we who are about to die, salute you, Ceaser”?

Anyway, it has been a remarkable couple of days, not least thanks to the injuries which have been caused by motley slips and tumbles. These courts are grass and grass is a very different surface to those on which these tennis heroes and heroines usually play. As has been pointed out, in the early days until the wear of play takes its toll, grass tends to be slippery. It is, of course, the same for all taking part so there is no unfairness involved. As John MacEnroe said, “you have to adjust the way you move”.

I suppose I was about thirteen when I decided I wanted to learn the names of the various grasses that were to be found in the lanes, fields and woods. In those days my preferred reference books were from the ‛Observer’ series which were published by Thomas Warne from 1937 until the beginning of this century. I had – still have, come to that – quite a few of these pocket sized books. British Birds was, I think, the first and that was followed by British Butterflies, British Wild Flowers, Common British Insects and Spiders, Larger British Moths, Pond Life, Dogs (as you would expect) and British Grasses, Sedges and Rushes. A small enough selection, really: the list runs into three figures.

And so it was I set out boldly that Eastertide to start to learn the names of all the grasses in the neighbourhood. I failed, of course, in much the same way as I failed when it came to wild flowers, insects and spiders. There are just too many of them with many species that look so alike that you have to take infinite pains to work out to which your specimen belongs. I just do not have the patience.

One thing all these books did, and the book on grasses etc. was no exception, was to get me looking. It is a habit that remains with me to this day and, despite a love for the arts and music, from where I sit nothing transcends the glory and beauty of the natural world.

Anyway, I decided that I would browse through my photo files and see what I could find in the way of interesting grasses, sedges and rushes.

How about that for a truly noble head? Still using memory rather than my notes, I am pretty certain that this most regal dachshund is, quite simply, known as Jack.