An Ode to Dried Mud

To me it is splendid that mud dries the way it does because of its physics and chemistry. And as it dries it briefly preserves the scant piece of Earth history to which it was witness.

Characteristic cracks.

Characteristic cracks.

A moment of earth's history, captured for another moment.

A leaf fell. A dog ran.


An Ode to Repetition

On one level, I hate routine. I’ve made important life decisions based on a futile attempt to avoid repetition. Changes of jobs, homes, cities – and probably relationships. I have to fight feeling trapped once I exhaust the options for fresh experience. But that time will always come. There are only so many ways you can drive to the store, if you are going to the same damn store from the same damn house.

Yet, concurrently, repetition and routine provide essential foundations to so much that matters to me. While it is always great to share a new experience with my kids, the comforting patterns of family life are constructed of routine. There is no question that I plan most of my writing during mundane tasks like toothbrushing or weeding. And one of the richest benefits of travel is how much I appreciate home when I return.

I have a friend who talks about Buddhist intent to stay fully present in each moment – aware of the give of the keyboard as I type, conscious of the flow of water and the scratch of the scrubpad as I wash a plate. She strives for this awareness to feel grounded and calm. I try it and discover subtle variations that make each repetition unique. Doing this seems to be as close as I can get to meditation -with all my Western impatience and resistance to organized faith.

An Ode to Earthworms

It rained last night, hard enough to wash earthworms into the streets. I used to try to relocate them back to the dirt but nowadays I just wish them luck or farewell. (Turns out to be crazy hard to pluck them from asphalt without hurting them.)

Earthworms have always intrigued me, from the days I used to dig to China in my backyard and they would slip away from the edges of my hole.  They move like a sound wave or certain earthquake waves, by contraction and expansion. They can live for a decade! I just learned from Wikipedia that they include a few, wide-ranging species which are called cosmopolitan earthworms.

And of course, if you are a gardener, they are your special allies. When they move through the soil, they make it looser – they are better aerators than any device. As a bonus, their excretions are a terrific fertilizer. I know somebody who enslaves earthworms to gather their pee and pour it at the feet of her flowers. The flowers do indeed thrive. Maybe it isn’t a horrible life for the worms. They live in a black plastic tub, but she is always feeding them treats like watermelon she buys especially for them. Still, I keep hoping for the right windstorm that will tip the tub and free the worms.

An Ode to Dirt

In between rainstorms, I just took the dog for a walk and it is so clean and fresh outside – it smells like dirt!

Dirt has always been important to me.  Dirt is being outdoors. Dirt is gardening, and the thrill of a plant thriving (okay, sometimes simply surviving) in my domain. Dirt is geology field trips, and reading the landscape to glimpse the history of the planet. Dirt is many happy childhood hours between the roots of the backyard tree, where I was determined to dig to China.

Dirt should not be confused with dust, however, which is a housekeeping annoyance.