I love dirt. Not the gossipy, snarky whispers – that’s way too boring – but the dark, gritty stuff underfoot that we all take for granted (I almost made a bad pun and wrote “for granite”…). Sorry.
For years I’ve heard serious gardeners talk wisely that it’s all about the soil. I’d nod my head and mostly think about something else. After all, it’s really about the plants, the dancing daffodils, smelling the roses, fresh veggies and all that.
But then something happened to me. I have four acres (my dream come true) with an acre of old woods, a pasture and pond, and two acres of lawns with way too many gardens for one person to take care of. Somehow over time, I experienced this magical transformation that could work as a plot point in a fantasy novel.
Without knowing how it happened, I changed from being the planter of pretty flowers to the steward of the land. Wow! When I stand beneath the silence of these hundred year old trees, watch the wild grass and roses wave in the wind, hear the ducks muttering on the pond, I have become linked to them. I have become part of the earth, in its wordless, near-perfect existence.
I’m not a particularly spiritual person – I’m far too aware of the mud and the weeds and the branches that have to be cleaned up. There’s a lot of housekeeping in a garden and I don’t like housekeeping. The big chore is always weeding.
That’s where the dirt comes in. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is getting up close and personal with mud. As I pull weeds, I get coated in the stuff (thank you civilization for hot showers and washing machines). But it isn’t gross. Fresh, healthy earth smells wonderful – like every springtime and those good childhood memories tucked into the pockets of my mind. As I dig, rose-pink worms curl in my hands. I watch them search for safe haven, refugees in a silent land that has been torn apart. Roots come out slick and white. Sprouts push aside muddy leaves. Everything is so alive.
And it is all nurtured in the dirt I have taken for granted.