I Need Dirt in My Life

505 total words    

2 minutes of reading

Photo Credit: "A Hand in the Carrot is Worth Two in the Ground" by Pictoscribe is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I’ve always wanted to live on a large patch of land.

I have my father to thank for that dream. He grew up on a farm in South Carolina. It was a sharecropper farm, but a farm is a farm.

At our home in Tennessee, he converted the left corner of our massive backyard into his farm. We had green beans, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, peppers, bell peppers, lettuce, greens (collard, I think), turnips (and their accompanying greens), squash, carrots, peas, strawberries, cantaloupes (wild animals nibbled most of these), and corn—giant stalks of corn.

And two of the meanest chickens I ever had the misfortune of knowing.

Around the perimeter of the backyard fence, my dad planted and cultivated peach and plum trees and a grapevine. His unsuccessful attempt at making wine still makes me laugh in remembrance. 

My dad loved to grow and nurture living things. 

I miss him, and I miss growing things. 

At my loft apartment in Orlando, I had two balconies. On the main one, I grew peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and decorative plants. I even had a lemon tree, and a rose bush. 

Here in Los Angeles, I have a scrawny bamboo plant I got at the dollar store.

Every weekend in LA, I wake near sunrise to beat the traffic and spend the day outside. I once thought my weekend jaunts to the beach or the national forest (Hello, Angeles National Forest at my doorstep!) were just my way to recharge.

But time makes us wiser. 

I started remembering my dreams from my twenties, of owning a house on a patch of land, with woods I could (metaphorically) get lost in. Where I could step outside at midnight or 2 a.m. and be greeted by a sky littered with stars. Where every constellation I studied in books and looked at through my telescope while growing up would be on display and my heart would race with excitement.

Every spring, sadness overtakes me. A melancholy that can only be dispelled by several trips to the local home improvement store. Walking up and down the rows of the garden center, touching and smelling the herbs and vegetable plants, smiling at the budding strawberry plants, gazing longingly at the lemon trees.  

I miss the feel of dirt in my hands. Turning the soil. Oxygenating the earth with my hand-rake before dropping seeds of new life into the ground. 

This one peas.

This one tomatoes.

This one strawberries.

That aching in my heart, which was previously a quiet thud, has now grown into the roar of a freight train.  

I’m not homesick for Tennessee (gorgeous state that it is). I’m homesick for my dream I put on the shelf while pursuing a Hollywood career. I’m ready for a home where I can grow and nurture living things. 

            Feel the soil in my hands. Under my fingernails.

                        Hear the rhythm of my heart slow to an almost coma-like beat.

                                    And be at peace.

                                                As I chase the rabbits out of the carrots.

 

  • Desiree Middleton

    Desiree Middleton is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. She holds an MFA in writing from Hamline University.

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