There is dirt everywhere. Around my hairline, in the lines of my palms, under my nails, and all over my limbs. I'm quite a girly girl. I choose to work indoors. I should surgically attach my laptop. I carry "just in case" nail polish around and would freak out if I lost my eyebrow make up. So why do the smudges of mud, layers of sweat, and smattering of grit fill me with such contentment?
One reason I give just about everyone is that it's good exercise. Well, of course that's true. It's about all I did last week except for a little elliptical time and some squats, yet I still lost two pounds. Still, the gym I pay $70 a month is good exercise as well. Spending more time there for exercise instead of gardening would make more sense, in that case. They even have tanning beds.
I have also claimed that, because it's a vegetable and herb garden, this will lead to a far healthier summer diet. I won't be subjecting my body to as many fatty and sugary treats. I'll be replacing them with veggies untampered by pesticides. I say this fully knowing I wouldn't be able to supply myself with a full diet of veggies from the meager space I managed to hoe and the limited amount of seeds I bought to begin with. No, if it were about eating more veggies, I would just visit Whole Foods more often.
In a last ditch attempt to explain why I'm so willing to muck about outside in the mud to attempt planting magic, I tell people I'm making an attempt to bond with my daughters. What better way to enjoy time with my children than out in the sun experiencing the joys of the planet. I can teach them so much about environmentalism and botany. In a harmonious assembly line we'll get work done and enjoy the fruits (or in this case veggies) of our labor together. Only, it never works out like that. That sun is scorching and we're all griping at each other about it. I spend most of my time trying to keep my girls from trampling the few plants we successfully transplanted from our little greenhouse tray. I don't trust any of them to do anything. They ask me the same annoying questions over and over again and I lose my temper. This is not quality bonding time. A trip to the library or the movies goes a lot farther in establishing a healthy relationship. No, bonding is with my children is not the answer.
The answer is going to come off pretty hippie, so prepare yourself. Like most people, I spend my time separated from everyone. I go to and fro in my car, which is like a moving, metallic bubble keeping me safe from the rest of the world. I sit at a cubicle designed to separate me not just from the world, but even my co-workers. I watch TV which tailors its entertainment to my needs and I never share it with anyone I don't have to. I never have to worry about compromising my desires with those of my community. Like most people, my life is insulated. Even our most passionate moments are safe these days. Gardening is not insulated. It is not safe. There's a reason "earthy" is a synonym for sexy. Days after transplanting, I am still finding traces of that warm, wet soil. I can still smell it. I'm going to eat from it not to long from now and then it will be inside me. Those nutrients will permeate my body. Gardening connects me to the planet and I will never connect to any other person in my life this intimately. So, I threw away my gardening gloves, gardening shoes, and the knee pad. I let myself get as messy as possible.