|Photo courtesy of Dawn Guy of Troy, TN. Thank you, Dawn!|
When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to tell me, "Everybody needs a little dirt to scratch in." Grandmother loved working the earth. For as long as she was able, she maintained a garden and small orchard. At 98 years old, Grandmother no longer has the physical strength to dig with a shovel or run the tiller (although her mind is still sharp as a blackberry thorn!); she does, however, keep several potted plants in her room at an assisted-living facility. Grandmother stills believes that "scratching in the dirt" is good for the soul.
Research backs up Grandmother's claim. In her article "How to Get High on Soil," Pagan Kennedy wrote that M. vaccae, a microbe found in soil, "has been shown to boost the the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine circulating in the systems of humans...In other words, [M. vaccae] works in much the same manner as antidepressant pills." (Pagan Kennedy, "How to Get High on Soil," The Atlantic, January 31, 2012. For entire article, click HERE.)
The smell of healthy soil, it turns out, is a natural mood booster.
We country folks are not surprised. When heavy rains of early spring give way to sunshine, farmers head out to the fields with ginormous "do-alls" and 36-row corn planters. The air fills with the rich earthy smell of freshly-turned soil. Roll down your car windows as you're driving down the road and inhale deeply, and your mood instantly brightens. Inhale too deeply, and you just might get high!
Almost seems like we humans were created to scratch in the dirt...like we were meant to live life in a garden.
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"...the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the LORD God planted a garden...and there he put the man whom he had formed..to work [the garden]." Genesis 2:7-8, 15