Digging in the dirt

Sometimes I forget to look up. I get so deep inside what I’m doing…full time job, editing a book, writing Fallsy Downsies in my head, being married, trying to keep the house from falling down…I just lose sight of everything around me.

Or, I make a set of assumptions about what’s likely happening. I decide that I know what the factors are, and what the outcome must then be.

You’d think, after several decades of this, I’d have learned, but that’s part of the not looking up.

Here’s what put me on this particular path. Spring has been taking her sweet time coming to these parts, teasing for weeks, then retreating behind a mantle of snow, then peeking out again. I’ve noted in my usual April way, that things are beginning to grow. There are crocuses in the sunny patch beside the Common, where the first crocuses in the neighbourhood always appear. Yesterday, Kev and I went for a walk and I became very excited at the appearance of big fuzzy buds on the magnolia on Cunard Street.

But I’d never actually examined our own garden for growth. In my mind, it’s too early. And I guess rather than risk disappointment, I have purposely not noticed what’s happening out there.

But today is so gorgeous, so relentlessly beautiful, that I couldn’t not notice any longer. Actually, what really happened is this. A friend stayed over last night, and I wanted to bring to her attention our newly cobblestoned back yard. Opening the door to show her, I showed myself.

A tidy row of crocuses border the main part of the garden. I dashed out in my bathrobe for a closer look. And the joy I felt at their appearance was tempered with sorrow at having missed much of their tiny life span.

I do so love to track the progress of growing things, and that I have missed such an opportunity in my own backyard because I was too busy to look up, and too convinced of what I know to investigate, kind of kills me. It also kind of serves me right.

And so I spent the afternoon pulling stones out of the dirt, raking, pulling handfuls of mulchy leaves out of the garden, liberating the tiny tender green fronds of new tulips from the winter’s detritus. Exclaiming to myself over every new shoot. Memorizing their position, their newness, their very presence. Feeling the sun on my back and the dirt on my hands, and vowing to do better. To look up, to investigate.

I think that’s my work, always. Look up, investigate.


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