I spent the day with my hands in dirt. Why? Because I love to make mud pies! No seriously, I spent my free time cleaning up the yard by adding mulch around the trees and shrubs. I pulled weeds and trim the grass. I love my yard. As I stood surveying my work, a faint odor of decomposing organics fluttered in the wind. With blackened hands I dove back, creating pits in the mulch to hold water for the trees. Neighbors walking up and down the street stop to say hi and admire my hard work. Yes, I was proud. Once again, where was this coming from? A while back I talked about domestication and the minivan (a lost story, I know) in which I described a gleeful moment with the arrival of my washer and dryer AND the fact that I am proud of my ride, a Honda Odyssey (aka “the minivan of love”). The feelings of pride, relief and excite were all stirred as I watched clothes twist and spin in their new home when not on a person. The same suite of emotions were evoked again as I sip my soda, trying desperately not to swallow any mulch that lay thick on my hands (I know I should wash my hands but I’m a guy, come on).
There was a time in my youth when work that was achieved today would turn my stomach. As a kid growing up with a Korean mother, I spent many waking hours working in her gardens. If I was not studying, I was digging. If I was not eating, I was planting. If I was not sleeping, I was mowing. If I was…well, you get the idea. I use to moan loudly in hope my mother thought I was sick and give me a chance to rest. But my mother never stopped. She was out there with or without me. She loved the feel of dirt on her hands. She would move mountains if she could, and at times, it felt like that was how much dirt was place on our yard. I never understood her passion until I designed and purchase my very own home. I have a small yard. You really cannot do a lot with it but I try any ways. I look forward to the weekends. I look forward to trimming and pulling weeds. I love how the grass glisten when I water the lawn. I love the burn of torn flesh as dirt fills a gap where skin should be (ok, that was a bit sadistic but…um, I do).
As the sweat pools over my brow and finally flow into my eyes, I feel the strain in my arms as I move the many bags of mulch to their final resting place. I work with ease and my actions seemed instinctive. Who knew all those years working in my mother’s yard would translate into a skill. Am I a great gardener? Oh no, far from it. I will never be able to achieve what my mother has done, but I love the process. I love the work. I love the sense of accomplishment when the day is done.Â I love the “dirt on my hands.”Â Thanks mom.