Back Yard Archeology

One of my surprises is that there are several kinds of dirt in my yard – a history of place that literally goes back thousands of years. 

There is a lot of native clay that clumps and has to be broken up with compost and manure (I am personally an aficionado of steer manure).  Rich in nutrients.  Gummy to the touch.  I’ve wondered if I could make a pot from it. 

Beyond the streaks of clay, lies a long sweep of glacial till – yes, my yard was once the resting place of a glacier.  The ground is gritty, full of chunks of stone and even boulders (seriously!) that aren’t native to my little corner of the world.  They were bulldozed and dropped by Mother Nature (and just in case you were wondering, Mother Nature is not nice and she always wins). Those casually tossed rocks of unusual size emphasize how pitiful are my solitary efforts at landscaping.

And then for more recent history, my soil is infiltrated with rubble from other lives and events (a devastating house fire 80 years ago, a barn that was condemned and replaced by a modern garage, and an extensive chicken coop that exists only in the long memory of my neighbors). 

Every serious weeding operation is an archeological dig, turning up melted glass, rotting wood, ancient nails, and shards of old pottery.  My favorite finds are forgotten children’s toys – small shovels, a toy ring, a small car that was left to road race alone.  Children have not lived in my house for 20 years, but families made it their home for more than 60 years before that.

So, despite the myth of dirt, I love to dig in it, to muck about, to smell the fresh growth, to excavate the secrets of ages.

There are archeological treasures in my back yard.