dirt

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There are a pile of worms on my front porch and its one of the cleanest places in the house at the moment. The worms are from a clutch of baby robins living in the eaves. They’re adorable sitting in the sturdy nest with their mouths open all the time waiting for their mother to return with food. Maybe mother put the worms down there on purpose so that when they fledge they won’t be starving. It was so sweet of her. But they’re starting to get crusty.

I came inside today inbetween diggings. I was amending a new section of the flower gardens and digging up the stubborn pinkie finger sized roots of the wild campanula. I pulled another container of leftovers out of the fridge. The table was strewn with almond milk stained bowls, bits of oats clinging stubbornly to their edges. Mugs of cold black coffee. Glasses with dried orange juice ringing the bottoms. Pots with the crusted memory of last night’s dinner. Plates smudged with peanut butter, pocked with date pits. Springtime digging makes me hungry. And too tired to do the dishes.

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When I’m working in the gardens sometimes I just want to lie in the dirt. Especially when I’m tired. I want to roll around in it like a dog. Take giant handfuls of it and bury my legs like I’m at the beach. When I’ve been digging for awhile and my legs and back are aching I sit down and study the dirt I’ve been turning under. I stare at the iridescence of the worms wriggling their way back underground. I catalog what weeds or seeds are sprouting. I yank up tiny Maple trees and calendula. I leave the cilantro and parsley. When the soil is damp and I kneel in it, I can feel the moisture soak into the knees of my jeans. Along with my house, all of my pants are dirty.

I wore a “nice” t-shirt to a friend’s house the other day and a dog jumped up on me and stained the front of it with dirt. “This is why I can’t own nice things.” I said. But I know the dog was just saving me the trouble. I would have gotten it dirty myself later when I couldn’t help but carry or dig or move something dirty even though I was wearing a “nice” shirt -which meant one without holes or dirt stains or white paint smeared on it. Eric is constantly reminding me to change out of my good Converse All Stars and into my old Converse All Stars when I can’t help but start working. Within two minutes of hauling metal out of the old landfill (it all happened by accident) I got my good pants dirty. I couldn’t help myself.

IMG_0353Mom came over when I was planting the forget me nots and we laughed about how they just get everywhere. They were stuck in the rug, stuck to her sweatshirt, stuck in her hair. I’m kidding they weren’t stuck in her hair. But they get stuck in my hair. Sometimes I think about what life would be like if seeds grew everywhere they landed and not just in the soil. I would have sweet peas and field peas growing from my hardwood floors. They’re always springing from their pods and rolling out of reach. Their tendrils would brush the legs of my old desk – a long table that I found covered in mold in the cellar. Margaret’s old canning table. I sprayed it with bleach and painted it white. Black eyed susans and purple coneflower would be growing out of its top.

I had a seed in my eye once. It would have grown there. And when I was a little girl the babysitter took me out to a vast field to collect sunflower seeds. Back in my parents’ apartment, she was on the telephone for so long that I grew impatient waiting for her to put them in the oven. So I sat underneath the dining room table and ate fistfuls of them until she found me. “You can’t eat them like this!” She scolded me sweetly but urgently. “…or sunflowers will grow in your stomach.” Soon I got a stomachache and was convinced it was the sunflowers starting to grow. Even a year later at a doctor’s visit when he told me to open my mouth and say “ah,” I was sheepish. I was convinced the Doctor would see the plants protruding from my throat.

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