dirtI have been a gardenmaker of one sort or another for what seems like a lifetime. I am quite sure my first effort to learn how to walk was an effort to get outside; this had not changed much in 58 years.  Once I did get outside, I stayed until I tracked it all back in with me like a beloved blanket.  Dirt I found very appealing, as its forms were infinitely varied as were its textures and smells. Though I later learned that dirt was a substance picked up by a vacuum cleaner, and soil is what one grows plants in, the word dirt has always sounded just right to me.  My first strong memory of dirt is the mounds of it excavated to make basements for the ranch houses being built in the subdivision where I grew up in the 1950’s. This dirt retained the teeth marks of the machines scooping it out of the earth.  Its colors were iridescent; the smell of wet metal, palpably radiating, was strong enough to make my eyes water.  As fascinating as the dirt was the hole left by its absence.dirt4


As my house was the first to be built on the block, I was able to watch over and over the digging, the moving around, the spreading out, the shaping, the hauling away.

dirt2This is all by way of saying I found the dirt and the dirt sites irresistible. Beyond the perimeter of grass surrounding my new house was an earth world, amusing and wildly entertaining as simple things are at that age.   I would climb the mountains of dirt, claim possession, and listen to the sunny silence.    A convenient board would give access to what would become a basement-a place of a silence of a wholly different sort.  Ones bones felt the air echo, and the cold seemed dangerous-would anyone look for me if I could not climb back out? The dirt seemed natural and right, as it was what was wholly mine. My love for dirt, earth, compost, soil-call it what you will-has been with me ever since.

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