A currently running television commercial for Dow Chemical features a very old song about grass.
The commercial touts a sound-dampening product by Dow.
The visual is a train with people hanging on the outside, over a 1940 recording by the Ink Spots, “Whispering Grass.”
“Why do you whisper, Green Grass; Why tell the trees what ain’t so…”
The song is a little strange, and the lyrics don’t take me anywhere, but it is a beautiful recording featuring Bill Kenny, owner of perhaps the most incredible tenor voice popular music ever heard.
You can fire up the computer and go to YouTube and hear the whole song.
It, like many things, sent me in an unrelated direction: Leaves.
They are wonderful things.
We eat some, drink a few, sniff them, smoke ‘em, drive to the mountains and swamps to see them.
In the South, we drink a lot of sweet tea in the summer – heck we drink it all year – but tea comes from tiny leaves.
Some Southern people are trying to recall where the poke weed grows. We eat its leaves down here, some of us, but we’ve grown so modern that few people calling themselves bona fide “Southerners” don’t know about poke.
We eat turnip greens; they’re leaves.
The Kansas woman’s family ate turnips, but fed the greens to cows. She still won’t eat them, won’t cook them, won’t try.
Many herbs are dried leaves. My favorites are sage and basil.
My three-year-old basil plant lives in a big pot. It’s etiolated leaves and leggy appearance concerned me, but it seems happy outside after wintering in the house.
Leaves are amazing. They’re little factories that manufacture food for plants.
Water comes up the roots into the trunk, from limbs and stems to the leaves. The leaves take the water, some carbon dioxide from the air and (powered by sunlight) transforms all that into starch, which the plant uses for food.
A leaf is small and ignorable, but a complex and fascinating little engine.
Some people are so attached to trees that they would nearly have you convicted for cutting one.
Trees do remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, but if you want to deify an organism on oxygen production, you should become an algae hugger.
Most of the oxygen we breathe is produced by ocean-living phytoplankton.
Trees are more photogenic than a one-celled thing you can’t see without magnification.
Leaves are great things: I’m about to have some for lunch.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.