The Dirt of Life

I found this moth on the side of the road on one of our walks this morning

I found this moth on the side of the road on one of our walks this morning

No gloves, no shoes,  skirt above my knees. My hands and feet are dirty. I can’t get the dirt out from under my fingernails.  My  knees are stained from kneeling on the grass.  And it feels so good.

I stepped into the garden in my bare feet and pulled a handful of weeds.  More weeds than flowers, shaking the soil from the roots then tossing them on the grass behind me.  Bending over, standing up the green staining my fingers, sharp rocks and soft earth greeting my soles, toes and heals.   It all feels good.  Focus like a meditation, only the weeds, not the flowers. Reaching under the leafy plants to pull the grass, yellow clover and purple flowering vine that would be pretty if it didn’t try to take over the whole garden.  The sun the wind touching my bare skin, my hair, the smell of green, unearthed soil,  blue sky.

Unopened mail piled up on the long table, dirty and clean clothes thrown over chairs, unpacked suitcases blocking doorways, boxes with the fabric of my studio lined up against walls, dishes in the sink, books on the floor making space on tables for pills and tissues, puffers and lotions, last nights sheets and pillows still on couch and chair.

So much to be done and all I want to do is pull weeds from the gardens. Feel the earth on my hands and feet. Like a baptism, this isn’t the dirt of cities and hospitals.  It’s the dirt of life. And I want to bathe in it, taking a lesson from the donkeys  who roll their  whole bodies back and forth and back and forth in a bare patch of earth, a different kind of clean.

I bush the grit from my knees and wash my hands, trying to scrub the dirt from my nails,  but I won’t wash my feet.  I like walking around the newly cleaned floors with my dirty feet, slipping them onto clean shoes, looking down at them as I write, remembering what’s real.

19 Responses to “The Dirt of Life”

  1. Marc ia says:

    Welcome Home, Maria….what a perfect description of the healing earth bringing you back to where you belong. Happy for you and Jon.

  2. Fran says:

    So happy you are home!
    So inspired by the way you are handling your circumstances.
    Love to you both!
    From Fran

  3. Barbara Stender says:

    Sounds like a fine therapy for a care giver in need of a break. The bulk of my retirement is spent in dirt therapy. Life only gets better and healthier. I recommend it. Used to deprive myself in favor of public opinion – I’ve gotten over that. All this to say I fully endorse your priorities, Maria.

  4. jill says:

    Digging in the dirt – the very best therapy. You have quite a haul ahead of you, Maria. Take care of yourself. Jon will really need you for awhile. I think you have a tough job keeping him from doing too much, too soon. He KNOWS what is good for him! Perish the thought – sometimes he is not right (LOL)

  5. Margaret says:

    My goodness. This is so beautifully written. It is like a whispered prayer of thankfulness

  6. Sally Brechbill says:

    So beautiful,Maria. Both the photo (which is my screen saver now) and what you wrote touch me deeply. A hymn of praise to the good earth that restores our souls. I’m on my way right now to pull weeds and rejoice.

  7. Kathie Ellison says:

    Oh gosh, Maria, I know just how you feel. I live with 12 dogs, thus a lot of dirt. But dirt is fine. Pretty normal to me. I also live in the country on 3 acres in a little rustic house. For many, many years I used to travel go to my aunt’s house several times a year. I loved her dearly. But her home was nearly sterile. I could handle it for about 48 hrs. Then it all would begin to close in on me and I would feel as if I was going to suffocate. I would become irritable, tremendously nervous and jumpy trying to maintain her standards of cleanliness and fitting in.

    I would come home after those visits and want to wallow on the floor of my house like a pig would wallow in her pen. Just coat myself in regular, plain dirt. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders just by walking in my house and normalizing myself again.

    I honor your need to feel the dirt and rocks under your feet. It literally “grounds” you, right? I so understand.

    Wishing you and Jon love and a joyful reconnection to your life, animals, home and nature.

  8. Jeane Daly says:

    Love your post… interesting how dirty can feel so clean a sometimes clean can feel so dirty. Nothing can cleanse the soul like working in the soil and getting dirt under our nails and in-between out toes.

  9. Jo says:

    Maria…
    I find your candid writing, your preferences shared and your dirt enchanting. Wondering if you might find the right time and spot to roll naked in the dirt like the donkeys. Sounds divine!

  10. Mary Ann Cauthen says:

    Awesome writing! I am one also who finds great solace in being bare footed outside in the dirt & grass. You know yourself well, & your writing is like a breath of fresh air for me! Take care of yourself, & if I didn’t live so far away (GA), I would come & help take care of animals & Jon. I am grateful for your sharing your lives with us!! Mary Ann

  11. Veronica Georges says:

    amen, amen, amen. . .loved your beautiful reflection. . .welcome to the healing of home and dirt and life. . love to you both

  12. Diane says:

    This was beautifully written, Maria. Reads like a prose poem or a prayer. My weeding today was cut short by mosquitos.

  13. Annie Bancroft says:

    Dear Maria, These three entries about Jon right after surgery and then home again are poetry, not prose. Your writing about the nitty gritty of life (no pun intended!) should be published in a book, but maybe a book of poetry. You write from a visceral place and it moves me in a visceral place. Annie

  14. Rachel says:

    So happy you’re both back on the farm, and happy you’re getting a little time to take care of yourself

  15. Pat Reid says:

    Thank you for sharing these feelings with us, Maria. Everyone’s experience is different and yet the same in certain respects. One of those is the care-giver and the need to take care of yourself, too. Blessings to you and Jon!

  16. Maria says:

    Like that Jo!

  17. Maria says:

    Been thinking of you Sally.

  18. Cindy chambers says:

    Dirt is comfort. I love our dirt here and the stable dirt and smell. My pillow has Dakota’s smell on it. Love. On the extremely hot days after our lesson we hose Dakota down. Then we squeegee him. I put him back in his corral and every single time, he quickly drops and rolls his damp body in his own luxurious dirt! :)

  19. Maria says:

    Oh I can just imagine Cindy, they do know about dirt.

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