Monday, May 10, 2010


My Grandmother used to say, "Everyone needs a little bit of dirt to scratch in."

I think she's right. We were, after all, created to be gardeners. And, as citified and urbanized as we sometimes become, something in us still pulls a little toward the earth. Even a very small child senses the magic involved in stirring up a little bit of dirt and planting a seed.

I remember the delight I felt as a child when the day finally arrived to plant the garden each spring. Dad plowed the garden plot, then ran over it with a disk. Finally, he zig-zagged back and forth with the joint-jarring tiller. I loved to wade into the loose soil behind the tiller and burrow my toes deep into the dark, cool, softness of the pulverized dirt. It felt positively delicious.

As an adult, I still enjoy the pleasure of beautiful soil. A couple of young neighbors were helping me plant tomatoes a few weeks ago. Grabbing a 5-gallon bucket, I headed to the compost box for some of the rich remains of last year's garden, intending to work a shovelful of compost into the soil around each young plant.

"Girls! Look at this!" I was so excited to discover that last year's bean vines and egg shells and melon rinds had transformed over the winter into soft, black, beautiful soil. I couldn't resist burying my hands deep into the bucket, crumbling handful after handful through my fingers.

"What is it?" Bailey asked.

"Black gold!"

We are winding down school at our house - Yay! - and that means more time free to spend outside in the garden, in the yard, working on flower boxes. More time for scratching in the dirt!

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