Digging in the dirt, they say, is relaxing. Putting your fingers into moist sand, part sand part clay, sandier the dirt, better the drainage, bigger the cottonwoods.
When we first moved to our house, Jim and I took a spring and dug up all the Bermuda grass. Growing like a network underground. They say, too, you can’t get rid of Bermuda grass, do your best then put cardboard down, dirt over that, start anew.
Jim’s wisdom less or more conventional, we built a screen, an old screen from a window with a two-inch frame. He threw shovels-ful of dirt onto the screen and I tamped all the clods out until each screenful was left with stubby hairy Bermuda grass, rooty and ugly.
We planted a native garden, and I forget the plant names. Except for Apache plume, something cotton, Snow-in-Summer, penstimens and sages. One sage we called “prairie,” but now I think of it as “rabbit” for how fast it multiplied. One year we had a section of Shasta daisies I was so proud of until I learned some people have fields of them.
In that yard are so many pieces of us. Our joint tamping like a native beat–ay, ay, ay, ay. Dirt and grass and seed, it’s indigenous to every one of us, I’m sure we’re all made of that if you break us down.
Roger’s buried there, in the front. Rudy, too. And there’s the peach tree we planted when Em was born. Both my girls came to us in the rooms with adobe walls, tall Mexican sunflowers the year Dee came, and with Em a transient season, a season of hope.
It’s hard leaving it all behind, and now as it approaches, the final sale, I can only cry and think this is natural, too. The dirt is still here, the ashes of my dogs long melded and turned to mineral. A plant will grow there even for the next family that comes. The peaches will be sweet, we made them so, and maybe even a Shasta daisy will grow in the spot I left it.