soil

WordPress Daily Prompt for July 18, 2017:

I spent much of the last two days with my hands in dirt. This is the kind of thing  only someone with obsessive tendencies, extreme motivation, or who is retired, would undertake. Yesterday it was pulling weeds – read grass, dandelions, and other assorted volunteers – which persist in populating the loose-stone-covered parking pull-out. Today it was multiple seasons’ worth of snow-plowed stone from the drive, layered and hiding in deep pockets in the ragged grass.

Now, this is a simple summer place. I have no opinion about the merits of grass in the rocks where I park my car, per se. But I AM highly motivated to prevent another mouse infestation in any part of the car whatever. [We’ll need to wait for a relevant WP Prompt to hear this tale.] And our ‘lawn’ is neither manicured nor fully grass. However, I do take umbrage at the shift of stone from drive to yard, on principle.

So yesterday was spent in the incredibly tedious task of pulling up small and large clumps of grass, one at a finger-pinched time, to ensure that all roots were fully removed. Masses of them covering just about every parkable inch of space available to my car. Today, it was the even more tedious task of liberating stone – ultimately, two wheelbarrow loads – from the grassy depths where it had piled and gathered over too many years. Each summer the vague notion of reuniting this errant collection of stone with its foundational partners has occurred to me. THIS year I acted upon it.

Let me just say, tedium and discomfort aside, the practical aspects of this job were several: the stone is mostly restored to the parking area; the parking area is mostly free of weeds; and thanks to my CrossFitTT training, I did not strain a single back muscle because I bent from the core and used my legs.

The other, and perhaps more important, side benefit to such work was allowing my mind to roam. To other times and places where I have dug at the soil for one reason or another. Like my early memory of helping Dad dig dandelions in our yard – $.01 each if the roots were still attached, I recall. [This was the 1950’s after all.] It recalled the annual rite of spring when my Mom would rearrange the plants in her garden, swapping annuals for perennials, the failed for the might-succeed. And of course it recalled the myriad gardens I myself have planted at each and every house I have ever owned – up to and including this one. To be sure, these gardens are numerous and in some cases, legend.

It also reminded me of a fast-write I did some time ago – might even have been in my first year holding weekly writing groups for Vermont’s incarcerated women:

I am a digger in dirt,
a seeker after truth,
a shadowed ray creeping
through cracks in the armor
rusted, dusty now
finally put aside.

I am a gatherer of seeds,
a gardener who drops, one by one,
these precious gems in the dirt
of home; waters, waits, watches
each sapling upward toward light.

I am an anthologist
scribing the parchment of my life
each chapter the storied press
the large and small print
of my days.

I am a potter, containing the craft
to hold the truths,
of digger, gatherer and scribe
this ancient yearning burning bright
to bring us forward into light.

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