An intermittently Liberal anthology compiled by Jonathan Calder

Tuesday, December 02, 2003  

Out on the lawn
To step on to a turf is to step out of the everyday; to break with the humdrum and the tyranny of routine. Grass represents liberty. It is the universal opt-out from the confinement of civilisation and regulation. By stepping on to the grass we temporarily reject the ordered world of human affairs and take a brief walk along the edge of the infinite.

The appeal of grass runs deep. You have only to watch the excitement of small toddlers playing outdoors on the lawn. Out here the normal rules are relaxed. Out here it is fine to shout and scream and throw the toys about. No one seems to mind. There is a new freedom to jump and roll about, to splash wildly in the inflatable pool, to abandon for a while the tedious laws of existence. And through it all to feel the cool, soft caress of grass leaves between bare toes.

It is a heady amalgam of the sensual and the spiritual, this anarchic world of grass; a formative experience that will never be forgotten. Primary teachers see it every year - the barely contained explosion of excitement when youngsters are allowed to play on the school field for the first time after the winter. The games they play are the games they played yesterday on the hard tarmac playground - football, handball, skipping and tag; the running, screaming, roughing-and-tumbling of kids everywhere. But when they are played outside, on the soft, green turf, they are imbued with a new joy, a greater abandon.

Years later many will experience the same collision of longing and sensuality when they lie with a lover in the park on a summer night. To make love on grass is to embrace the wild and the untrammelled, to brush against the great forces of the infinite as Laurie Lee did on his magical night beneath the hay wagon with Rosie, his first love.

Grass is a reminder that we have a history older than our lives. We come from some faraway place, and that soft, green vegetation beneath our bodies has made the journey with us. When we touch it, when we walk on it and play on it, lie on it and make love on it, that is when we feel intensely alive.

Graham Harvey The Forgiveness of Nature: The story of grass (2001)

posted by Jonathan Calder | 11:27 pm