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.