Monday, June 18, 2012
Winding down the long country road my 64 Chevy pick-up bounced and swayed like a carnival ride to the local recycling plant. Like an old washboard the cab vibrated so that my 8 year old's voice made us laugh as he tried to tell me that he was hungry on our way into town. We were on our way to buy dirt for my garden and maybe look at some plants. I was new to gardening so I had my list of questions to ask the person at the recycling plant of what would be the best dirt to start a garden that was heavy with hard packed clay. One would think that Oregon soil would be naturally blessed but it’s quite the opposite. Hard pack clay that turns slippery and sloppy in the winter and spring rains and as dry as concrete in the summer. Only weeds find it to their liking with a few stray flowers trying to make it in the barren soil.
Driving into the recycling place I could see sections of dirt ready to choose from, but I had no clue what was what. The man that came out to assist me had a puzzled look on his face when I asked him, “Which was the best dirt to use for my garden?” “The dirty kind,” He said with a sarcastic chuckle. The man could see that I wasn’t laughing and was serious about my choice of dirt. He pointed to a pile that looked dark and rich and would be great to add to the clay soil that I already had. He also began to share with me why it was the best and gave me a half-hour lesson on tilling the good soil in with the clay soil to mix the two and to add composted material to add nutrients that would feed my garden all year long. As my truck was being loaded, I got the first whiff of what fresh rich soil smelled like. I thought to myself how could something so dirty smell so good? You know what I mean if you have ever experienced this. That earthy, rich aroma that locks you in forever to its scent; that wave of desire to get your hands in and dig around, you know what I’m talking about. I would be forever changed in my thinking about dirt for my garden.
With the truck loaded and the man paid, my son and I were off to lunch and then home to unload my treasure. The aroma of dirt came through the windows of the truck telling me that my garden would be renewed from hard packed clay to viable, rich nutrients that would make my garden flourish. That summer was the start of my gardening experience with an abundance of crops that exceeded my every expectation. Later that year I took a basket of produce that came from my garden to the man at the recycling plant as a gift for what I had learned about “the dirty kind of dirt.”
My heart can sometimes be like hard packed clay to where nothing can grow except the weeds of complaining or discontentment. In order for my heart to be a happy heart it needs to be tilled in with the nutrient rich stuff of life. Learning patience, respect for others, good morals and manners come from some of the compost of life. If we never learn these then we are not very happy or productive people. Things can grow, but they don’t produce anything healthy. You can tell when someone has retained the lessons of life for their good, because they produce kindness, patience and a whole host of good character and quality in their friendships. The next time that you dig in the soil let it be a mirror into your own life and a blessing to others who you share it with.