A new fragrance: Dirt

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”-Margaret Atwood

And that’s how it was this past weekend. My husband and I worked out in the yard both days, all day. The kids helped too, in the way that kids do. They start off enthused, with the gloves on and futzing with all the tools and then a short while later, they are off hula-hooping or riding their scooters. Gardening gloves have been thrown at the edge of the grass. Being outside these days was fabulous. Seventy degrees, sunny, slight breeze, the scent of spring wafting through the air.

Our home is an old one….213 delightful years, to be exact. Our fair lady was built in 1800 and probably has many stories to tell, some of which we have heard since we moved in 14 years (already?) ago. Like the fire that started in the chimney during a dinner party back in the 1950s. The men tried to put out the fire, which had migrated to the second floor and the women grabbed all the desserts and plunked themselves on the lawn across the street to watch the craziness.

Some have speculated that our house sat in a different location in our town and was moved. It also used to be a dairy farm, so who knows what we might unearth if we did some digging out behind the garage where the old barn used to stand. Or what about some of the markings on the tree trunks (yes, actual tree trunks) that are holding up our house in the basement? Who put those there? I wish I knew. We also have tree limbs making up the frame of our attic. I guess you could say that we live in a glorified tree house, in a way. Just on the ground.

This old gal (the house, not me) has seen lots in her 213 years. She’s also at the point now where a little facelift could help here and there. We all will need it by the time we reach 213, trust me. So, this weekend, my husband and I endeavored to fix the front flower beds and paint the porch. New railroad ties were nailed together and new coats of paint are being brushed on. Plants are going to be rearranged. Just like your closet or the inside of your home or even your thoughts…it’s good to rearrange every once in a while. Keeps it fresh. Doesn’t let those cobwebs accumulate.

It’s really quite amazing what a coat of paint will do. It’s also amazing how good you feel when you have put in a day of work out in the sun, out in the fresh air and have something so beautifully tangible to see at the end of it. There is a satisfaction there that cannot be rivaled. Even if you are dog-tired by the end of the day, which my husband and I sure were, you feel great about all that you accomplished. You were mentally figuring things out (in the case of the ever-moving railroad ties) or even just mentally meditating (weeding) and on top of that, you were physically active and out there in Mama Nature. Nothing is better. Well, only the hot shower (or bath, in my case) and drink (hot tea? dark and stormy?) at the end of the day, quickly followed by a good night’s sleep.

I can put in a day of tapping away at the computer and when I am done there is a satisfaction, for sure, but it’s completely different with how you feel when you have been outside doing some big project. I always flash to farmers when I experience this…do they feel that satisfaction when they day is done or because it IS their everyday, is it akin to sitting at the computer for them? One thing on my bucket list is to stay at a working farm for a weekend. I already know going in that three days may be just fine to satisfy my curiosity. I’m guessing it’s crazy-hard work and much more than anyone really understands. Remember the movie “Witness” and Harrison Ford had to get up in what seemed like the middle of the night to milk the cows? I am not delusional.

Digging in the dirt, getting messy, breathing fresh air…all those come together to make you feel great somehow. A woman who I know was just mentioning an article about the outdoors and how navigating it is a much more vital challenge to the brain (kids and adults alike) that previously realized. Manmade is easy for us to digest, for the most part. Nature throws things at us that are irregular and therefore forces us to analyze and draw conclusions in different ways. Net-net: keeps us on our toes.

I’m going to keep getting those toes and hands dirty. My feet, in fact, spend much of the summer without shoes on. They get dirty as all get-out. but it feels great. We need to connect with the Earth below us, the sky above us and all the glorious, even if dirty and exhausting, things in between.

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