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.

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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)