Holiday Meadow  by Edith M. Patch

Hay Day

T IMOTHY was a tuft of Herd's grass. He and several other tufts of long narrow thin flat leaves grew close together in a bunch. Besides these leaves Timothy had a slender straight stem about three feet tall. The base of this stem was shaped somewhat like a very little onion. This part was in the ground. At the other end of the stem were Timothy's many flowers crowded together in a spike-shaped tip.


The stem of the Timothy grass is thickened at its base.

In the field with Timothy were thousands of plants like him and altogether they were lovely to look at. When the breezes passed over them the tips of the grasses went down and then up like waves. As they touched one another in the wind they made pleasant murmuring sounds.

Timothy could not hear his own whispers or the lispings of his neighbors. He could not hear the tune of the little green musician who often clung to his stem and played.

The musician's name was a long Greek word which means "I‑dance‑in‑the‑meadows."  He was a graceful creature with six jointed legs, the hind pair being very long and useful when he went skipping and hopping here and there. His green body was a little more than an inch long and his waving threadlike antennae were about two inches long. He had a neat brown stripe on top of his head. His tiny jaws moved sidewise, instead of up and down, and his manners when he ate were most dainty. When he was thirsty he drank dew drops from the tips of grass leaves. It was pleasant to see him.

His hind wings folded and unfolded in straight creases like fans. He used them in flying. His fore wings were long and narrow. Their edges overlapped a bit along the back and they covered and protected the more delicate hind wings when these were folded. Near its base each overlapping fore wing was thickened and ridged to form a musical instrument, for little "I‑dance‑in‑the‑meadows"  played his tune by rubbing his wings together very rapidly.

There were short sharp notes like "zip‑zip‑zip!" in his music, and there were high-pitched and rather soft trills like "zreeeeeeeeee!" He played in the warm weather in the daytime and in the evening, but his cheeriest zips and trills were never heard by Timothy.

Timothy, indeed, could not hear even the loudest noise in the meadow. He did not know when the mowing machine clattered into the field and the racket of the cutting blades began.

But Dick and his cousin Anne heard the sounds though they were playing way down by the pond. "Hurrah!" cried Dick. "Hay day!" cried Anne. Then they both ran to the meadow as fast as they could go.

The cousins loved Holiday Meadow. It was a fragrant place with its clover and other sweet-scented blossoms. The notes of bumblebees and bobolinks and thousands of other musicians flooded it as full of pleasant sounds as a concert hall. And there were so many little creatures performing in the field that the children could not watch them all at the same time.


Jack was younger than Dick and Anne.

Anne had an especial liking for the Herd's grass. It grew so straight and was so thick and tall that she enjoyed walking among the stems. And when the Timothy heads were in full flower the lavender anthers, hanging from the blossoms, made the meadow lovely as if it were covered with a mist of color.


The Flowers of Timothy Grass

The children had many happy times in the meadow. Most exciting of all were the "hay days" when the men cut and raked the grass and then piled the dry hay on the big wagon and hauled it to the barn where they stowed it to use in winter. Of course Dick and Anne tumbled on the hay stacks and rode on the loaded wagon; and sometimes they were permitted to help drive the horse that pulled the rake, after the grass was cut.

Anne, now, enjoyed the fun of haying as much as Dick did, though her first hay day had an unhappy beginning. That was during her first summer at Holiday Farm while she was a very little girl.

"Do you remember," asked Dick, "how you ran out in front of the horses and screamed until the man stopped the mowing machine?"

"Yes, I thought all the lovely Timothies were being hurt until Uncle David explained that they couldn't feel the cutting blades. You see, we had such good times playing hide‑and‑seek in the tall grass and talking to it and calling it 'Timothy' that I had a feeling that the tufts of grass were like people, I suppose. They seemed like our little playmates."


A Tuft of Timothy Grass

Anne touched a head of Herd's grass gently. "Even now," she said, "I wonder what sort of life this Timothy has. It grows year after year in the meadow and never sees the summer shadows when the fluffy clouds go over it. It never sees the spotted eggs the bobolink lays in the nest at its feet. It can't hear the crickets or the grasshoppers or the birds or the wind. It doesn't smell the clover or its own blossoms. It doesn't feel any pain when it is cut in two. And yet it is alive—as we are."

"Maybe it has some sort of feeling," said Dick, "while its stems are growing up into the light and its roots are pushing down through the dark ground; but I suppose no person  can guess what it is like."

The cousins often told each other their thoughts about matters of this sort; but hay day was too exciting a time for long talks.

"Look!" exclaimed Anne. "You remember that bumblebee nest we found at the edge of the field among the golden rod? It was in the same spot where a mouse had a nest last year."

"That's so," said Dick. "John is driving the horses right towards it. We'd better run over and stop him in a hurry or he and the horses will be stung!"


The dry grass is ready to be taken to the barn.

The day after the grass was cut it was dry enough to be put into the barn. The children rode on the loads of hay and then climbed up into the hay-loft and played games in the fresh hay.

That evening Uncle David told Dick and Anne about a hay day in England when he was a boy visiting there, with his father.

"When the grass was dry," he told them, "the hay-makers hauled it to the edge of the field. There they piled it carefully in big long stacks. Then men who knew how to make thatching came and covered each of the stacks with a sloping thatched roof of hay. The stacks were shaped like cottages and, together with some tall elms which stood near them, they were pleasant to remember—like a pretty picture."


In England hay is kept in neat stacks.

The grass in England which is stored in neat thatched stacks is the same kind as that which Dick and Anne saw harvested in their uncle's meadow. Some people in England call it "Timothy grass" as we do. Others call it "cat's-tail" because of the shape of the blossom-spike.

After the grass in Holiday Meadow was cut, a party of crows came there for picnics. They were jolly noisy birds and had a merry time looking for insects in the stubble. Very early in the morning, before certain kinds of night cutworms had hidden themselves in the ground for the day, the crows went hunting for cutworms. Later, when the sun was bright, they had grasshopper hunts and amused themselves in other ways.

One day, not long after haying time, dull heavy clouds hung over Holiday Meadow and rain fell and soaked the ground. The grass plants found the moisture in the soil with their roots and began to grow new leaves. In a few weeks the field looked fresh and flourishing for the new leaves were high enough to hide the ends of the dry cut stubble.


After the grass was cut it grew again.

Then Dick and Anne were permitted to take down the pasture bars and invite Daisy and the other cows into the meadow for a feast of fresh grass which was better than the trampled sod of the pasture.


One of the cows visited the meadow after the hay was cut.

When the cows had enjoyed the change for a week or two, they were put back behind their pasture bars. The grass in the meadow needed a chance to grow before frosts came so that it could store up strength in its underground stems and be in good condition to stand the cold weather.

One morning the frost showed white and heavy on the grass blades, and after that the plants rested for several months. In time the snow fell on the field and tucked the thousands of sleeping Timothies under a soft thick blanket, for winter days and nights.

And not a Timothy of them all knew what had happened to him!