dirt cleans the mind

Almost makes you blush, doesn’t it? So lush, open, shamelessly lovely. The tulips in my side yard really came into their own today. They seemed to enjoy the warmth of the sun as much as I did. It was a pleasure just to walk by them, which I did several times.

Days like this there is nothing better to do than be in the yard and dig in the dirt. My jeans got stained from kneeling and digging out isolated tufts of grass to make way for an ample spread of mulch. Knocking loose the dirt with my spade felt good, solid hunk in my hand, clods flying every which way. Nothing between me and the soil, just grabbing chunks of it and shaking it loose, no complicated matter at all.

The scent of the fully bloomed magnolia permeated the yard. That and the sun and the irises got me drunk. I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Two days ago my head was buried. Nothing seemed to come out of it except numbers and plans and worries. All that went into it was data, the complex calculations that I use to try to transform my students’ work into some sort of standardized measure.  It is hard work to be fair and precise and yet open to variation. I woke up the next day exhausted, my head congested with abstractions.

Dirt by contrast is not abstract. Plow your hands into it and it resists. Kneel in it and it clings to you. It is cold and solid and deep, the stuff that holds us up and soaks up rain and fertilizer and dog shit and bears fruit and fragrant flowers that bloom gaudily like can-can girls.

Spend a day in dirt and it scrubs your mind clean of numbers and plans and worries. No wonder dogs love to roll in it.

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