I spent the weekend dirty. Filthy, actually. Sweaty and smelly. Covered in bruises and bites, scratches and scrapes. My legs now resemble those of a kid just bounding off the bus home from summer camp. Not sure if I’ll be able to squeeze in a manicure this week, so I might have a little explaining to do when clients and colleagues catch a glimpse of my thorn-pricked palms and ragged nails. An irritating throb between my ring finger and pinky marks the path of angry ants while red dots at my ankles either reveal the appetites of nibbling chiggers or an unwelcome poison ivy slap. Despite my battle wounds, I wish I could push away from my desk, skip the rest of my work week and dig right back into that dirt.
My gardening projects never fully reach completion, instead rambling on and on like the vines I’m constantly pulling out of my way. This time, I managed to plant an entire new corner in a couple of days, but surveying it again this morning, I thought of possible changes. Then, I noticed the weeding and pruning needed on the opposite corner and, toward the back, eyed the perfect spot for some summer bulbs, a wide morning ray spotlighting an empty altar ready for the joyful choir of sun-worshippers — gladiolus, cannas, dahlias, perhaps more daylilies along the fence… definitely rudbeckia to smile up at everyone, proud of their signature black-eyes. The shady spots whimper for extra attention, too; under distant trees, a few hostas and ferns await companions in quiet repose hoping to see friendly foliage rooted before the neighbor’s English ivy encroaches on their mellow territory.
Such the grand and ubiquitous metaphor, isn’t it? From Eden to almanacs to everafter we cultivate our notions of life and love from the parables of the dirt. Technology, politics, even concepts of art, all change. Dirt remains constant. Century to century, through culture and custom, we dig and we plant. We marvel at what we are able to produce, whether for sustenance, sale or ornamentation. We battle invasive weeds, fret over failed crops and surrender to pests. We venerate the connection between bountiful gardens, healthy bodies and nurtured souls — celebrating the sunny spots that boast the brightest blossoms, resting in the calm shade requiring our mindful regard, watching carefully for threatening invaders and attempting to monitor our growth. We bandage our cuts and wipe away the perspiration. Then we crawl right back into the soil and we get dirty. Gloriously dirty.
Who else needs to dig?