Daily mythology: Reed


One doesn’t have to look pretty and precious to be many-sided. Often the most humble people are the most talented. Likewise in the realm of plants: take the grass. It grows everywhere, has no shiny flowers but makes the whole earth look green. A very special grass is the reed. It is truthfully virtuoso and there’s not much it can’t fulfill.
Reed and water belong together. Where it grows it needs very less oxygen. It is quite invasive and is able to displace other plants. The roots grow so deep and strong that one burn is not enough to exterminate it. Ongoing research suggests that goats could be effectively used to control the species. Worldwide there are very less banks without reed. It is habitat for plenty of birds, gives them shelter and breeding space. Actually reed transforms even water into land, because much mud is settling in between its blades.
And how useful it is for humans! Not only for pergolas, but whole roofs are covered with reed (the famous “Reetdach” in North-Germany). Inside clay it is stiffening the walls of houses. Let’s make sticks for the garden, mats, brooms, fishing poles, and even spears out of it! And for paper not only Papyrus, but several subspecies of Phragmites (how the botanical name is) are being used.
Now think of Moses. Wasn’t he exposed in a basket of reed and as a baby swam down the Nile? No wonder Egyptians made boats and ships out of reed.
The antique king Midas had his ears transformed into donkey’s ears. He couldn’t hide that from his barber. But this slave had to swear not to tell it to anyone. As he couldn’t hold himself he told everything to an earth-hole. And there we are: reed grew there and began to whisper this story all around… In fact, reed is used for music too. As well the flute as the single or double pipes of clarinet, oboe and bagpipe were made of it. What would Turkish music be without Ney and Zurna (though nobody can say that Zurna is whispering)?
Finally reeds are giving food too. Young stems might be eaten like asparagus, from the ground or kibbled roots one gets flour..”
Fortunately we find reed everywhere. Isn’t it marvelous?


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