Monday, June 22, 2009

Thoughts on snake grass . . .

Do they call it snake grass--those hollow, pull-apart reeds that you can section off, pinch the more rigid ends free and then flatten the softer ends to whistle through? The grasses used to grow along the ditch banks, and we would make whistles of different sizes and pitches, blowing them until they wore out or we did.

Now they grow in a small clump in my aunt's front yard, where she planted them. I picked a stem yesterday and made a sharp sounding whistle, which I blew until I reached the front door, only then reluctantly discarding my treasure to the earth.

Today, I found the rest of the grass stem--seven sections long of decreasing lengths and widths up to the minuscule tip. I separated off one of the sections, tore the thick end free, and compressed the other end in preparation for whistling. But the barrel collapsed into a flat green thing, having lost too much water to hold its walls rigid and make the sound I so wanted to hear.