I’m looking for a word…

This post is about gardening, but not in any kind of traditional sense. It’s about a subtle, quiet transformation that has taken place over that last few years. It starts with a horse, Yasmine, a white Arabian that was given to us for a while. Beautiful, but too strong willed for neophytes like us. So we had a stack of oat straw that stayed out in the corral after Lynne came and took Yasmin to her horse ranch.

That’s one part of the story. Another part is the 2 acres of property we bought used to have a railroad easement along the roadside. Gone were the tracks, but the rocks, weeds and purple star thistle were abundant.

That’s the 2nd element of the story. I have a thing about experimenting and watching things happen naturally. We are surrounded by prune and peach orchards. All my farmer/neighbors had star thistle on their property too. They sought to eradicate this thorny pest with RoundUp (doesn’t touch it) or burning it (didn’t work).

Hmmm. There must be better way I thought. I researched what to plant that would crowd out the star thistle. Too much work. So we spread the 20 or so bales of oat straw out over the Centaurea calcitrapa -covered easement one summer and I forgot about my project to eradicate this noxious weed while I went on to other things.

I don’t know how many summers it took before I noticed the star thistle was gone. It must be like a bad habit or some annoying person that disappears and you don’t notice the absence. But I did finally realize that we now had oat grass growing out there because it now required mowing. But it was pretty and blew nicely in the wind.

Now, maybe 5-6 years after the fact, I had an amazing revelation. The neighbors don’t have star thistle anymore! Not across the street. Not even way down the street. It’s all oat grass!  I know how Mrs. Rhumpius felt!I always thought someday I’d plant wild flower seeds out of my pocket. It turned out to be oat straw! It’s even medicinal. I could harvest it and take a bath with it if so inclined.

What’s the word I’m looking for? The transformation of something that was so barren and ugly, thorny bordering on noxious into a beautiful, natural grassy plot that spread to the neighbors in such a quiet unobtrusive way. While we were all tearing around trying to make a living, this phenomenom was happening. This transformation that did not call attention to itself, but it took me by surprise today to realize how far it had spread. I keep thinking there’s some word, or some concept that describes this (other than miraculous, of course).



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