This I Believe Draft

I believe in the power of dirt. The feeling of driving your hands into newly rototilled soil in early March. The satisfaction of burying a sunflower seed and then watching in avid curiosity as it slowly sticks its’ neck out of the dirt and unfurls and grows.

Growing up with two very hard core gardeners for parents led to an unusual childhood. As my Dad always said, “We had three children for a very specific reason: so we could have a weed-er, a water-er, and planter.”  As I am sure the listener of this has already deduced, I was the designated family planter. Of course, I was not always as enthralled with the planting process as I am now. As a ten year old girl, the last thing I wanted to do was leave my dolls and tea parties to go stick my hands into fertilized worm filled dirt. Forever the obedient child, however, I would dutifully pick up the variety seed packets and go busy myself planting row after row of spinach, carrots, beans, sunflowers and lettuce. The never ending yard work was always a part of my weekend and summer life until the summer of 2013 when I was a thousand miles away living among the cobbled streets and concrete houses of Ecuador.

At first, my freedom like a gift from God. No morning wake up calls to avoid the sweltering PA heat plopping seeds in their various man-made holes. After several months, however, and many skype calls with my family, I began to miss my daily routine that involved endless hours of yard work. Gardening is one of the few things in life that allows for both immediate and short term gratification. The immediate gratification of knowing you did a job well done and the long term gratification of watching all of your hard work grow and prosper (with the right conditions of course).  I got little satisfaction from my life in Ecuador. Although perfecting my Spanish abilities was one mile marker to be reached, there was little else to look forward to. I began to obsess about always maintain a clean room and house.  Looking back, I believe my lack of gratification from gardening made me seek it elsewhere (Ie. Having a clean house).

I knew that coming back to the United States after a year abroad would be difficult. I spent my last month in Ecuador primarily stressing out about how to transition into life back into the states. My anxiety reached new levels on the plane ride home. Greeting my parents went smoothly and, as it was 3am, I went straight to bed. The next morning, I woke up slightly disoriented after finding myself in my own room. Confused, I stumbled downstairs only to find an empty kitchen. Of course, I bellowed at the top of my lungs “Where is everyone!” “In the garden!!” came the faint response from my Mother, also known as the family weed-er. I had to smile. Of course I couldn’t expect to be coddled on my first day home and was thrown back into the daily routine. I was back to the toil of gardening. After a year off duty, however, I don’t think any girl was happier than I was to stick my hands into the fresh Spring dirt and restart my life in the United States.

I believe in the power of dirt.

7 thoughts on “This I Believe Draft

  1. I like this! I would consider changing the title to I believe in Gardening or planting, because there’s a little more than just dirt. I’m not sure what the time constraints are, but I think you could also shorten the bit about Ecuador, maybe saying something like “the times I were away from it all, I felt unsatisfied and realized that without gardening nothing defined my days.”

    Besides the above, I thought it was very good! I like that you start by introducing the concept and it’s personal relation to you, and then you take a different approach by saying that it has become such a regular part of your life that you feel displeasure with its absence. The narrative also exemplifies something that you initially described personally, so it gives the readers a helpful angle with which to comprehend the depth of your relationship (with gardening…or dirt I guess).

    Yeah going back to my initial comments, definitely keep the narrative. I’d consider shortening it, but it adds a lot of depth.


  2. I love it! I love how you really explained why this seemingly mundane task was so important to you and how it shaped you. Also the sensory details were spectacular and acute. You can actually feel as if you were there planting with you. Anyway keep up the good work, and I would only make minor tweaks if I was you.

  3. This is a great topic! There are so many sensory details about dirt, and I absolutely LOVE the first paragraph where you talk about your parents having three kids for a reason 🙂 I love your style, too. One thing I’d suggest is trying to bring back the idea of dirt at the end, and maybe describing the day you got back into the garden after returning to the US, and how that felt 🙂 I think that would really tie the piece together nicely. Overall, great job and keep up the good work!!!

  4. This is adorable. I loved how personal the experience was, and how you basically summed up your life through your belief in a single thing! I really like how you tied your experience in Ecuador to a belief that you’ve had since you were growing up, as I think that’s a really clever way to show that beliefs stay true to who you are throughout your life, and pertain to the person and not necessarily the place. I also think your belief is so unique that its so nice to hear something so different and fresh! I really like this piece and can’t wait to hear your execution of it in your podcast!

  5. I really enjoyed your This I believe, and I felt it was something that has become a particularly important aspect of your life. However, I think it would be better if you focused on one specific aspect of the story and explain it in more detail, it would be better than just generally speaking about leaving for Ecuador and missing the gardening rituals from home. but, overall I thought your podcast was strong and well thought out! I could easily follow your experiences and your belief clearly throughout the entire piece. Nice job!

  6. Your story was very engaging and it kept me interested from beginning to end. Specifically I was impressed by the imagery that your writing evoked, especially during your gardening “scenes”. I loved how you mentioned that the lack of gardening in your life during your time in Ecuador probably resulted in your focus on keeping the house clean. I think if you wanted to add something, you could either recall a specific day of gardening with your family or maybe a specific time in Ecuador when you first realized how much you missed gardening…But aside from potential additions, it’s a very good piece.

  7. This is a very strong piece that is both captivating and engaging. I can tell you feel very emotional about your topic, and it is something that makes you unique. I might say it would be nice to find a specific example from your past considering gardening, perhaps one day when you were out with your family, it doesn’t have to be anything special. If you focus more on snapshots of your experiences I think it could be even better than it already is, but otherwise it still stands strong as is. I enjoy that your story went in a circle, where you left the country and returned back home, holding the same belief that was inside throughout the journey.

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