Sweet Vernal Grass



Sweet Vernal Grass
To enjoy the delicious breath of our meadows, you must enter them in the sleepy stillness of summer afternoons, when each blade of grass has been warmed by the sun, and plentifully exudes its own juicy sweetness, and you bathe your feet in depths of fragrance. Then you may look all about you and wish for an endless leisure-day to fill your hands with the million sprays and airy panicles of flowers on which bees swing themselves.
It is the scented vernal grass (ant/zoranlum odaralum) which emits the balsamic odor of the new-mown hay. Without it the village hay-cart, as it passes along the road, would leave no sweeter track through the air than a load of clean straw. The scented vernal grass, which the French musically' call flauw, grows in our meadows, our woods, and mountain pastures. About one foot high, it has short leaves and a compact panicle of flowers, which become pale yellow as it ripens. The green valves that hold the flowers are sprinkled over with gold dust, similar to those of black currant berries, and these valves are the censers that secrete, then scatter to the wind, the odor of the grass, which is the benzoic acid. And yet that grass is scentless to the touch. If you pluck it your fingers are not made fragrant, as they are by the least contact with any aromatic plant, such as mint, or sage, or sweet basil. But you cannot pass it by without gathering into every pore of your being its subtle emanation. In an insinuating, irresistible perfume, almost the first breath of earth, it communicates a voluptious intoxication to the senses, and awakens in the mind a veiled harmony of delicious dreams. Even hidden among other grasses, in a bunch of flowers, the smallest spray of that scented grass will betray itself by its ineffable sweetness, so ditferent from that of any other plant.
The Galaxy, Volume 5
 edited by William Conant Church