There are really only two types of kids: mud-puddle-philes, and mud-puddle-phobes. Let’s just say that my mother had absolute confidence in sending me to preschool in pastel pinafores and white tights. I liked her garden, to be sure, but I liked wandering around it, dissecting berries, chewing thoughtfully on flowers that my rabbit seemed to enjoy, and licking the single drop of nectar at the end of honeysuckle stamens. Sit in the dirt? Dig in it? Jump in a mud puddle? No thank you.
After the last post, I realized that a part of the reason (the part that doesn’t have anything to do with my intrinsic unsociability) I’m not more actively involved in the environmental movement is that I hate the look and feel of dirt under my nails. My primary source of vanity is my hands: bird-bone fine and clever-fingered. I really don’t like grime. I’ m squeamish.
Even I roll my eyes at my own lameness sometimes. So this weekend, as a part of my new challenge-to-self to try to be part of the solution, I mortified my vanity and got my hands dirty, not just once, but twice. Kind of.
Saturday: Henry Cowell Redwoods
It’s disappointing to find litter in a state park as beautiful as this one. Really, people? Really? I was with a friend who is a lot more gung-ho about picking up trash than I am. (It’s not that I don’t care; it’s the dirt-under-the-nails thing that gives me pause.) She braved poison oak, muddy patches, and rivulets to retrieve detritus. I volunteered my reusable bag for her collection of bottles, Slurpee containers, fallen name tags, and even a mud-infused cotton sock. At one point, I gingerly retrieved a wine bottle covered in leaf mold. Not much, but a step in the right direction for someone who has a major dirt aversion to overcome.
Sunday: Tentative Attempts at Indoor Gardening
Maybe it was the balmy weather or the realization that dirt wasn’t going to kill me, but I decided it was time to increase my indoor plant population. I’m an insoucient gardener at best, with nothing more than a few scraggly orchids and ferns in my big south-facing window. (My mother’s green thumb has not proved to be a heritable trait.) Armed with totally unwarranted optimism, Kevin and I went to the small family owned nursery nearby and picked up a donkey’s tail succulent, several organic herbs, walking stick kale (which might turn out to be a really, really bad idea), and plenty of organic potting soil.
The soil contained manure, worm casts, and some other things I didn’t relish getting too close to. Nevertheless, when I opened the bag, it was sun-warm, loamy,and smelled cleanly, well, earthy. I had some extra pots and seeds, so I also tried planting some basil, parsley, chives, and catnip. It was messy, but oddly relaxing. Maybe even a little addictive. We’ll see if any of my seeds sprout. Maybe there’s a gardening enthusiast somewhere in me.
Are you also a recovering mud-puddle-phobe? What do you do now that would have surprised your younger self?