I wasn’t outdoorsy when I was young, nor was I particularly prissy. I was a bit of a dreamer, but more than that, I was a reader. All I ever wanted to do was read, so any digging in the dirt was done vicariously between the covers of books. To be honest, I don’t remember any instance of soil in books, though there must have been. I read stories about farming and archaeology and escaping from prison camps via tunnels, but somehow I never really associated such literary activities with dirt. When I inserted myself into the books I read, I was always relatively clean, no matter what the activity.
As an adult, my jobs were of the clean variety — no getting dirt under my fingernails — and reading continued to be my preferred method of escape and entertainment and education.
So it mystifies me that I’ve become rather fond of mucking around in the dirt. I spent the morning preparing a bed for the daylilies that will be arriving next week, and to fill in the low areas where deep clumps of weeds and grass were removed, I hauled buckets of dirt from a dirt pile left behind when the stumps of my felled trees were removed. A couple of the buckets were pure mud, and I found myself spreading out the damp soil using my gloveless hands. I never even thought anything of it until a person who happened to see me doing so chuckled and said, “I love mucking around in the dirt, too.”
It’s funny sometimes to get a glimpse of how others see us. To me, I was just gardening. It never occurred to me that I might actually like the feel of dirt. And, as it turns out, I do. Usually I wear gloves when I “muck,” but I hadn’t planned on doing anything this morning but a bit of digging, so I’d left my gardening gloves in the garage. I’m glad I did. There’s something so elemental about one’s hands in the dirt; it’s only when we become civilized and have to worry about grooming and manicures and such that dirt on our hands becomes the enemy.
Oh, and reading. One can’t read with dirty hands. To do so seems a desecration of the written word.
I’ve gone through many changes, not just of me but of my lifestyle, during the years after Jeff died, and this mucking around in the dirt is a surprising one, though it does go along with my new-found love of gardening.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator