I first came across this question whilst walking down a lazy road on a warm sunny day. There were three people employed by the council to cut the grass using a variety of devices. I first wondered what each sliced blade cost the tax payer and wondered if this was a good use for the planets finite resources; a very human; if not British response; but I also wondered if the grass liked being cut. That chemical given off by the slashed blades is a distress signal; warning its fellow grass of what fate it has suffered. Does the recipient grass rush nutrients to the roots? Does the local fawner mourn the grass’s cuts? Is the grass crying biochemically from the pain: or laughing? Does it even feel pain or have a sense of humour?
Within the question lies much deeper significance; Mowing; the process of diving plant matter for increased aesthetic pleasure; is an attempt to perfect what we feel is imperfect. It stops the land changing; controlling the landscape and perpetuating a grass based environmental sheer: A physical reminder of man’s perceived power and mastery over nature. It’s also an act of desperation; using expensive manufactured tools to try and control the environment both in terms of time, energy and resources. Perhaps the grass be laughing at us when it spurts out its smell? It’s more ancient, adaptable, elegant and majestic than any torturous tool conceived of by its ape agitator.
Grass as a species will no doubt outlive our own. Could we write genetic messages into it; have we already? Mankind can use incredible amounts of energy, resources and time to temporarily transform a desert into grassland, but, like a candle it’s very rare that human behaviour can enhance systems partly and eternally beyond its comprehension and the pollution created in terraforming outweighs any positive to planet one hundred to one.
If left to its own devices, Grass will be replaced by other, more complex plants and animals. By cutting it; by forcing it to live by human rules, by enforcing perpetual infancy, we can perpetuate the grass’s existence; but to what end? if it’s long, it will be cut. If it’s dry, it will be watered, if it’s dead it will be replaced, if it’s got no nutrients, it will be neutered. The grass really has very little control over its own destiny: however under these human conditions it can thrive as a heterogeneous crop: But would the grass rather be under natures rules instead? Can, and does grass commit suicide? Grass is not meant to live forever; it’s part of a cycle of creation, renewal and replacement; it’s part of a bigger biosphere that uses grass for a base for other plants. Grass is a means to an end; not an end in its self.
We can keep the sickly little blades going for years. Does the grass like having other weeds out compete it? Well, in the long term yes: because its beneficial for the grass. Can you imagine a planet covered by nothing but grass? Would the grass not just suck up all it could from the planet’s soil and find its self in the long term lacking what it needs to survive? More complex plant systems and animals have the ability to spread nutrients and offer other advantages like deep earth nutrient extraction; the grass has a role to play: it does not fear change, or death: its ancestors will also be grass; dancing eternally around their bigger brother plants.