Sketches: Dirt

Dirt

Gentle Reader,

It’s really hot. It’s stupid.

So, let’s talk: dirt. (Prompt submitted, once again, my my own brain).

I could have been a farmer’s daughter.

My great-grandparents owned a farm in Idaho, near but not quite in the panhandle, where there is a town named “Onaway” because it’s on-a-way to elsewhere. He played on a traveling baseball team part of the year. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse at one point. My dad and his four brothers spent many hours out at their place, forced to bake something every Saturday morning before being released to run through the fields and orchards, chucking rotten apples at each other and jousting on bicycles.

My dad’s first job, around age 14, was working for another farmer, driving tractors and moving big, metal sprinkler poles. The kind with wheels attached. (Google if you don’t know what I’m talking about). He’s the quiet sort, so it didn’t bother him to be out on his own, working in the dirt.

It doesn’t bother him now, either. Though the great-grandparent’s farm was eventually sold and it never worked out for my own parents to buy land and raise animals that would never be slaughtered because we would get too attached to them, he still works in the dirt. Mows the lawn, prunes the roses, plants trees. He hates the heat this time of year (as do I), but he finds being out there, taking care of things, relaxing.

Perhaps the funniest thing he’s done when it comes to dirt and plants was the time he allowed an offshoot from a rosebush to grow in the middle of the yard. Drove my mom nuts. She wanted him to cut it down. He mowed around it week after week, wanting to see what it would do. The fact that it annoyed her was just a bonus, of course.

My mom would always plant geraniums or petunias in pots, lining them up neatly on the stairs that led up to the porch. When I was about 13, I began helping her with the process, learning how to gently spread the roots and place them in deep, soft, wet soil so the plants wouldn’t go into shock. I found it very soothing – me, the not-outdoorsy, doesn’t really like to get dirty person, completely fine with plunging her hands into a bag of potting soil. If my memory serves correctly, one year, I think the last year we lived out on the two-and-a-half acres in the single-wide trailer, I did all of the geraniums myself. They always looked so happy in their terracotta pots, deep green leaves and red blooms reaching for the sun.

I turn to my own plants when I’m feeling anxious. There’s something immensely satisfying about chopping a woody rose cane to the ground. Nothing better than watching the vegetable garden spring from seeds to delicious food. I could do without having to weed, but even that isn’t bad when done in the morning, when it’s cooler, while listening to music or a podcast. I send the ladybug army in to eat all the nasty, destructive little creates. Sit on the back porch and watch the birds flit from tree to tree, the ones that we snagged at a giveaway because we bought our house at the wrong, worst time and had no money to put into landscaping. Admire the baskets hanging from the pergola, fresh vines draping over following a ruthless pruning.

The dirt, and what it produces, is delightful.

Signature
SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).
Advertisements

Five Minute Friday: Accept

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Our FMF brother Andrew referenced Crispin’s Feast in the chat tonight. My appreciation for the Bard came late in life (as a matter of fact, just in the last few months, after watching the BBC series Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses). Up until now my response has has been, in the words of Joey Tribbiani, “Hey, Shakespeare? How about a chase scene?”

Ah, but does it really get any better than this?

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

– Shakespeare, Henry V; Act 4, Scene 3

Kate says: accept.

Go.

It’s hot beverages, scarves, sweatshirts season.

Oh, and boots. Can’t forget boots.

Christmas may be my favorite holiday, but Autumn is my jam.

Pumpkins glow a fiery orange against the muddy backdrop of a near-empty garden plot, their vines fading from the bright green of new foliage to the duller shade of maturity. They are all that remains of summer’s growth. Beans, carrots, cucumbers, onions, peppers and tomatoes all harvested a couple of weeks ago, as the sun began to hint at its diminishing, giving way to cooler temperatures and the barest, cheek-brushing kiss of frost upon the ground.

A pumpkin is nothing more and nothing less than a pumpkin. A seed responds to the rain and the sun and the soil. A process mostly unseen. Held together by the word of God. It sprouts, it grows, it delights, it dies. All as designed by its Creator. It is, of course, not sentient. There is no wrestling with the great questions of life. Without a brain, it cannot worry that it is not as good as a spaghetti squash. It cannot wish to be slim like a cucumber. It cannot throw its weight around to intimidate a carrot.

A pumpkin simply…is.

I have been wondering about God’s love. Truth be told, I’ve not often felt it. Some speak of their hearts being overwhelmed, their souls swimming in Divine affection. Being at least half-Vulcan, I am at home in the mind. I have emotions. I cry (though few have seen it). I have compassion for people who are hurting. But I just don’t speak in the language of “feels.” That part of me is underdeveloped.

It is true that we cannot base our faith on feelings. There are far more mundane days than dances on mountaintops. More opportunities to grit our teeth and choose obedience than bask in the glowy fizz of spiritual hugs. This is right and good. We have to be tough. We have to have grit.

And yet…

God is love, right?

The mind and the heart have to be devoted to Him.

It’s not that I don’t love God. I do. There’s simply a desire for…more. I don’t know what this means. I have asked Him to allow me to experience His love in a way I haven’t before. In a way that will make sense to me. (In a way that will keep me from yelling at the kids loudly playing basketball across the street, kids who should be inside having dinner or doing homework). In a way that will reach beyond the walls and the cherished sins, the dark places we all possess and seek to keep hidden.

I want to live fully in the reality of these words:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

– Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV)

Beloved. Dearly loved. Much loved.

Christ, the much loved. Christ, the dearly loved. Christ, the beloved.

I want to feel that love. It is, by right of adoption, mine to have. Mine to experience.

Mine to accept as a gift beyond pricing, for He has accepted me by His love, in His grace, through my faith.

I want to simply be in Him, confident of His pleasure, secure in His affection, at rest, with no fear.

Just as the pumpkin simply is.

Stop.

Signature

Observations on a Friday Evening

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Goosebumps rise on my forearms, competing for space among the freckles. Standing near the kitchen window, I peer through wood slats, moved to somehow find words for the indescribable. Nobody can capture the fleeting, never-repeated beauty of a cloudy sunset. Not writers, not painters. Not really. All we may attempt is a mediocre copy of a genius that lies beyond our reach.

And yet we keep stretching, hoping to grasp it.

The little hairs stand on the back of my neck in response to the chill. It is spring but not yet warm. Faded leaves, left behind in Autumn, blanketed in Winter, out of place now, cluster around the tree trunks. I imagine they are jealous of the tender buds on the limbs. A juxtaposition of death and life, a mingling of seasons.

A dance, the steps of which we never quite learn.

Nature can never be reduced to the clinical, the parts. We try to box it up. Contain it. Master it. Yet there is something beyond the mechanics. An echo, a calling. We study but long to peer beyond.

Palest of yellows. A tinge of orange. Fluff above shifts and shudders.

The dogs bark at nothing. One runs through the little door, plastic and metal banging. Disturbing the scene.

Reverie broken, I turn from the window. Back to the now.

This now – I don’t care for it, for here there are many questions. Foremost in my mind is whether I should even continue this writing thing. Wondering if I’m any good at it. If the hours I spend with the pen and the keys matter.

I have no answer and I do not look for your pity.

My eyes move back to the window and the distance. Light has faded. Nothing but clouds now, obscuring the first stars of night. My mind conjures up strains from “Somewhere Out There,” sung by the little immigrant mouse in the child’s movie. He looked. I look.

The kettle whistles. Time for a cup of something hot, a comfort in the unanswered.

Signature

Image credit: Micah Hallahan

Five Minute Friday: Gift

Add a little bit of body text (6)

Gentle Reader,

Chit-chatting with my online friends and trying to ignore the headache pounding behind my eyes. It’s Kate. It’s my people, my group. It’s a: gift.

Go.

I look out the front window. My eyes rest on the rose bushes climbing the weathered wood trellis. They reach toward the sun, canes shooting this way and that. Heavy heads sway back and forth, up and down in the breeze. Bright pink, full flowers mingle with darker fuchsia. Shy buds hide within deep green shields, waiting for their turn to burst forth in showy display.

This is a gift.

My parents passed on a love of plants to me. Oh, I can’t rattle off a list of names of the flora that crosses my path when I take a walk. In fact, I can’t name very many plants by sight at all. The love they passed to me is less…clinical, I guess. Less about lists and terms and more about an appreciation for beauty.

My mom put potted petunias on the porch steps every summer. My dad took care of the rose bushes. (One sprung up in the middle of the lawn and he left it there just to bug my mom). Snapdragons and tall, willowy grasses grew just beyond the fence. Around the corner from our house, wild lilacs filled the air with their delicious, heady scent.

There is something so refreshing about nature. I feel connected to God when I’m digging in the dirt. There is a sense of accomplishment when I pull weeds. There is pleasure in putting together a bouquet.

The softness of the petals. The sting of the thorns. The glorious shades of color, never perfectly matched by paint.

God’s special gift in a tough world.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)