Three nights this week I came home from work, quickly changed from dress clothes into yard work clothes – sweat pants, t-shirt and the pair of old sneakers that are not allowed out of the mudroom. I unloaded the bags of manure stashed in my trunk from my lunch time visit to the garden center and, one by one, stacked the three yellow bags in my driveway, next to my little plot of dirt that will soon be my little vegetable garden.
On hands and knees, in newly purchased (slightly too big) gloves, I pulled weeds, scooped up leaves caught in the corners of my DIY wooden bed, loosened soil. After dumping each bag I raked out the area, spreading the rich manure evenly across the contained box of dirt, prepping the ground for future seedlings and small vegetable plants. Next door, my neighbor pruned shrubs and prepped her garden too; their old lab, Phoebe, barked and barked, tail wagging, until her owner opened their backyard gate and let her visit me. Suffering from hearing loss, old and tired, she immediately plopped down in the middle of my yard while I alternated petting her head and letting her lick my hand.
I weeded the beds around my deck, planted a hydrangea, spotted a robin’s nest in the flowering crab apple tree next door after listening to the bird’s insistent chirping and watching it jump from branch to branch. Phoebe’s house and mine share a fence, mainly to keep her in her yard. My neighbors and I have populated the border with lilacs, evergreen shrubs, mountain laurels. Tonight I started digging up the grass between each shrub; a truckload of mulch will be dumped in my driveway in the next few days which I’ll spread over the newly exposed earth.
With each weed pulled, each clump of grass lifted with the shovel, each handful of dirt spread, a calmness washed over me. I didn’t think about my job, what needed to be done in the house or anything beyond pulling the next weed, moving and spreading the next mound of dirt. I was in the moment, focused on the task at hand.
When I’m in the zone, present and perfectly content I think to myself “why would I want to be anywhere but here.” Playing in the dirt does that for me. And after the long cold winter we’ve had I’m due for some dirty work.