A blade of grass


While out mowing the lawn, I slipped into my traditional path of overlapping tire marks as I make each pass. Itís one of the ways I can be certain that Iím not leaving a missed strip of grass behind me as I move along.

Using a ride on mower, I set myself up to make narrowing circles. And, after a lap or two around the outer edge, I switch directions.

The change in directions is mainly for two reasons, but both involve the discharge chute. When Iím doing the first pass, which means riding up close to walls and fences and such, that chute could leave a foot or more of unmowed grass. Go with chute facing the other way, and I basically leave a smaller trail that weed whacking later can pick up. The other reason is that when I switch directions, the chute direction reverses and I begin sending the clippings out into the area already mowed, which means I donít wind up with an ever-increasing pile in the middle of my circles.

One of the funny things that happens on a really sunny day is that when you are consistent in your efforts week after week, you can wind up losing your place between the mowed and the unmowed. This is especially true on that first run around after switching directions.

But I didnít come here to talk to you about lawn mowing methods. I came to talk about God.

I have my troubles with religion. Not major troubles. Perhaps we can call them significant questions. And, all things considered, the part thatís important is I have my doubts.

But Iím open to the existence of a higher power. And occasionally, I see signs that assist in the possibility of finding just such an existence. One of them comes from the lawn.

When Iím driving in the same direction, I can see the tire marks. I can see the grass that Iíve cut and that I havenít better. Itís when I change directions and go against myself that the troubles begin. Itís kind of a physical and theoretical example of God.

OkÖ I hear you. I understand the concerns with my suggesting that mowing lawn and the way grass bends after being run over is an existence of a higher power.

A master plan of creation, so that things move and react and bend a certain way. And that way guides me along the path. Itís amazingly religious, to be honest.

And, sure, not religious at all. Itís just science. Physics and botany and whatever else youíd like to consider. The position of the sun in the sky, and the reaction of grass after being driven over, andÖ andÖ all sorts of stuff.

In fact, if not science, how about just coincidence? Itís not a higher power. Some would argue itís just being observant.

And itís with that in mind that we make a shift to the higher power argument.

Have you ever known a bird to own a computer? When was the last time you were aware of a cardinal reading a newspaper? Are there any examples of a blue jay watching a weather forecast and making plans as a direct result of what it saw?

Your answers are likely no, no and no. Fair enough.

Christopher Heckscher might have something different to say.

Heckscher studies birds. Not weather. Birds. Heís an ornithologist. Over roughly twenty years of working with a breed of thrush called veeries, he began noting some strange deviations in the annual migrations. (Turns out, they head to Brazil for the winter.)

What Heckscher noticed was that the breeding season varied in length from year to year. And, when he began looking for reasons, one thing that lined up with his findings was the strength of the hurricane season.

In 2018, he published a paper on it. That very year the veery predicted a strong tropical storm season while meteorological sources precited a weaker season. The veery got it right.

Now think about that for a moment. A species of bird, one that essentially migrates across the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, is darn good at predicting the dangers of a stronger hurricane season. In many ways, it seems to make sense. But these arenít birds using computers, reading newspapers or watching weather forecasts. There is no 1-800 hotline for the veery to use that directly connects with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

So, what the heck are they seeing and sensing that scientists, meteorologists, computer programmers and more are missing?

Perhaps itís a blade of grass.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com