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Posts Tagged ‘digging in the dirt’


September Red Pepper, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2009,
all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








red pepper study
yellow, green, orange palette
god in the details








Pepper Study: Pepper Pot, Green Before Red, Pepper Leaves,
Hole In A Pepper Leaf, Red Pepper Green, 8 Faces Of A Pepper Stem,
Alone But Not Lonely
, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2009,
July 2009, all photos © QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






-posted on red Ravine, Monday, September 14th, 2009

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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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.

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I spent a large part of last evening digging in the dirt, mowing the lawn, tying Liz’s Ecuadorian anniversary roses with dark twine into a neat bundle of 9 and hanging them on the porch, emptying vats of standing rainwater, ripe for mosquito breeding.

I poked my hands into the slimy bucket and pulled out terracotta planters and cyan plastic garden pots that had fallen there. They’d careened into the abyss, a thrown out cat litter bin, over winter. I carefully held each pot up above the earth and let the water drip away, then stacked them one by one beside the shed next to the rusting Radio Flyer wheelbarrow and wagon.

The neighbor across the street placed the Radio Flyer wagon at the end of her driveway late last fall with a Free sign on it. Liz and I snarfed it up in seconds flat. But not without asking, “What’s the story? Why are you getting rid of it?”

She said it belonged to her son when he was a kid. And she had used it for years and years to haul garden supplies and planting soil. But now it was time for it to go. One woman’s ceiling is another woman’s floor. We are happy to have it. And now use it to haul dirt in and weeds out of our own gardens.

I worked up the first summer sweat last night, stopping periodically to wipe my forehead on the sleeve of my T-shirt. Bullfrogs sang in the distance, the orange sky purpled near 9pm, and I stood drinking a long swig of water out of a blue Taos Mountain bottle, watching Liz weed the garden near the juniper.

I took macro shots of white bell-like blooms near the cactus. What’s the name of that plant? The lilac, so small last year, has bushed out and is pushing the limits of its ring of river rocks. We’ll have to expand the circle. Growth. It’s good to grow.

When it came my turn to plunge the Sears mower through tall bottom grass soaked from last weekend’s rains, I was sure to take a big long whiff of the first cut grass of the season. I lovingly ran my hands through the clippings in the catch bag every time we emptied it into mulch.

Old garden Skechers turned lime green from the chlorophyll dew. My hair was coated in bits of cut grass and creeping Charlie that Liz laughingly plucked from my head when we sat down to rest and drink a Mountain Dew on the gray steps under the mailbox.

God, I love spring in Minnesota.

Before the dog days of Summer, before mosquitoes and black flies, before humidity swells my joints and sweat drips from armpits on the short ride home from work. Before the day I was born, before wiry brown haygrass mixed with sparks from the barbecue signal fire danger, Code Red.

Before Fall, there is Spring. Mary Oliver said she names a poem in almost every book Spring. She does it because she doesn’t like to think of titles for her work.

I like to think she does it because she loves digging in the dirt and freeing juicy earthworms for the songbirds she so freely writes about in lucid, eloquent detail. I like to think she does it because she loves Spring.

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

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