Saturday, July 22, 2023

It's a dirty business


My husband and I live on a small farm and we deal with dirt on a daily basis. We keep our muck boots ready at the doorway so we can change before we go outside. We also keep muck boots ready for guests who might want to visit the gardens or walk the fields.

I used to think of dirt as this unnecessary thing, a nuisance, really--something to get rid of, clean up and discard. But these days I see dirt as something quite precious. It sustains life and growth. Our vegetables and fruit trees depend on it. If it doesn’t rain, we must water the dirt. And if we get a late frost in May as we did this spring—we will cover the tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings with a blanket of white cloth--and pray they survive.

If the dirt grows tired from too many plantings, we replant our perennials. We trim back the red raspberry bushes, prune the apple trees and tend to the asparagus which gets overgrown and turns to seed—its tall willowy stalks reaching up and up until they are taller than I am. We put cages around the new fruit trees so the deer can’t get at the tender leaves.

And in the fall, we put the garden to bed.

I’d like to stop here and admit something. I have been using the “we” voice, but the truth is, my husband does all this work. I do help, but mostly I am a witness. I stand at a distance and try to remain unmoved, but the truth is living on a farm and watching the seasons return again and again has changed me. I am more aware of the passage of time than I have ever been. And I am painfully aware of my own age, now on the brink of seventy. I know that I am not immune to the trajectory of every living thing, in that I will die too, because in the end I am no better (and no worse) than dirt.

Creative Friends--Your assignment for this week is to reconsider the seasonality of life, of your routines. There are days when your creative work is blooming, full of greenery and harvest. But there will be days when everything is covered in frost and the magic is simply unavailable to you. Things look dead. But your creative garden is not dead. It's just resting. Sleeping. 

Be patient. Spring will return and with it, new life will arrive—fresh and green and red and brightly purple--pushing itself upward and outward with gleeful abandonment. 

In the meantime, practice chords, edit your poem, build muscle and get your hands a little dirty. Actually, get your hands a lot dirty.

And have fun.



1 comment:

  1. Hi Jamie, I just finished reading your amazing book Parisian Charm School and it has brightened my soul. I’m now sending copies to my friends and sisters. It NEEDS to be read and cherished. Merci encore!


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