The Smell of Freshly Turned Earth

“There’s naught as nice as th’ smell o’ good clean earth, except th’ smell o’ fresh growin’ things when th’ rain falls on ’em.”
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

There’s nothing like the feeling of a shovel in my hands and  the turning of fresh earth. The dust  plumes into the air and my toes become covered with it. It’s all over my legs too. I place the shovel on the ground and kneel where I’d just been digging. I place my hands in the earth and let it sift through my fingers. I breathe in the scent of it. It’s dry and dirty, but somehow it cleanses me. I grab my trimmers and cut roots from the ground, then throw them both aside.

I take the field stones that I’ve pulled from the ground and place them in a rock garden around the concrete bird bath. It was my mother-in-law’s. I look at it and it makes me wish for the days of planting flowers with her. We did that the first Spring after my father-in-law died a cruel death from Pancreatic Cancer. My mind drifts back to the present and to the task at hand. The rebuilding of a dilapidated fence to keep the three Wonder Schnauzers from wandering the streets. Plus the transplanting of Lilac bushes, Hostas, and an out of control Forsythia bush.

My body is sore from a recent car accident, a compressed vertebra and pinched nerve. But I need to be outside. The air is crisp on this Sunday morning. With our bodies in constant motion and the movement of the sun, the temperature increases and I slowly but surely begin shedding my layers of clothing. I start out in sweatshirt, t-shirt and yoga pants. I end up in yoga pants and a tank shirt, since I need to feel the warm sun on my already pale skin.

I do a ton of raking while Roger Darling pulls the posts from the old fence. We re-measure and mark them for cutting and I stand on the boards to hold them in place while he uses the circular saw. He cuts off the rotted end of the post. I smell fresh sawdust because the blade has heated the freshly cut piece of wood. I swear it is one of those smells that takes me back to my childhood. Reminds me of my mother. Of all that she taught me to do.  I take my flip flops off and stick my feet in the sawdust. I make sure to pick up and throw away all the old nails that we removed from the posts that we re-purposed.

As a kid I hauled lumber, measured and cut wood, built decks, and painted. Whatever needed to be done, I had to learn to do.  I was raised in a houseful of women. We did everything ourselves. It must be why I still like working hard and getting my hands dirty. Honey I don’t get my nails did, because what would be the point? They’d get ruined the moment I found some project to work on. Or stuck them in dishwater or scrubbed a sink. Hell who knows what else I’d get into?

Roger Darling keeps asking if I’m okay. If I’m hurting. I assure him that I’d taken a couple of Vicodin and a Valium and I’m doing just fine. The only thing that pisses me off is that I can’t swing a hammer. I sure do love to drive nails into fresh wood. To hear the sound of it. To feel the force of the hammer bite into the wood and then drive it home. I’m no pussy. I can drive it home in about five strikes. I don’t tap it, for the love of God. I drive it!

The hardest part for us is dealing with the neighbor’s compost pile that’d been sitting up against our old fence for about five years. I pull branches, sticks, leaves, and grab the shovel and dig. Roger Darling is helping too. We’re tired and getting to the point where we don’t give a shit what the last section of fence looks like when placed. Our hands hurt, and the nerve in my back is starting to spasm, all the way down my damn arm.  The work must be finished though. I grab the shovel and dig. We place the fence section, and it’s still too high. We’re tired and bitchy but we keep at it.

Finally it is placed just right. We need to add a 2×4 so that the section stays in place. I’m still pissed that I can’t drive a nail into the wood. Roger Darling drives the final nail and the fence is finally set. It looks damn good. Roger and I look at each other and we are so happy with the outcome. The Wonder Schnauzers are happy too. They are finally freed from their leashes and allowed to roam their backyard. We move and replant our various flowers and plants. Our work is finally done. We are spent, but feel accomplished.

I love to work with my hands. To get them dirty. Make them a little calloused and rough. Not to worry though, I scrub my nails and file them back to perfection when the work is done. Roger Darling and I even went out to dinner that night and shared dessert. We figured we’d work hard and played in the dirt, we deserved a treat.

I’m reminded of a conversation I shared with my father-in-law.

He said, “You work hard like a man.”

I looked at him and replied, “No honey, I work hard like a woman. I was taught to work hard by other women.”

My new dad grinned, told me he loved me and gave me a sweet hug. I sure do miss that man. He’d have been proud of all the work that Rog and I did.

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Happiness is Strong Pain Meds and Valium YAY!

Pain makes me a whiny baby bitch.

The last four or five weeks have not been good ones. I have been dealing with chronic pain that has been steadily getting worse. I’m no longer able to hold a pen or pencil and after about a half hour of typing, my left hand becomes immobile. The pain in my back has been excruciating. I was hoping that after quitting my job in the salon that I would heal on my own. That turned out not to be the case. I am now having muscle spasms that radiate from my shoulder blade to my finger tips. The spasms last anywhere from 15 seconds to at least one minute. The Motrin and muscle relaxer the general practitioner prescribed didn’t do much of anything. If I wanted any relief, I had to keep my arm completely immobile. That’s not easy for this busy woman to do.  It fucking sucks!

I’ve seen a chiropractor and he’s awesome, but I’m still suffering. I finally gave up and went to the ER today. Roger Darling had a mandatory meeting so I called my Meggie to come be with me. She shows up at the ER with what I think is the entire contents of her house. She’s got her book bag, her computer, her cell phone, and her purse. I think she plans on moving in. My sweet girl cheered me up, and made me laugh a lot. She spewed the F word about as much as I do. We talked about her fiance, the wedding, school, her goofy dogs, her all organic food kick. We talked about everything. Then I’d have a muscle spasm. We’d wait it out and then she’d bitch because we had to wait almost three hours to see a doctor.

Meg decided we needed lunch. She took off to Whole Food for organic pizza, salad and soup. In the meantime the doctor finally showed up. It was discovered that I have a severely pinched nerve in my C7 vertebrae. They prescribed heavy duty pain meds and another muscle relaxer. After Meggie got back, Dr. A came into my room to introduce himself. We set up an appointment on Friday afternoon for an MRI and to discuss the next course of treatment. After he left the room Megan start singing the Ali Abua Abua song from Disney’s, Aladdin because that’s exactly what the specialist looked like. She told me I had to sing the song to him when I  see him on Friday. I called her a giant music geek. She just cackled. My God her laugh is just like mine!

After I was discharged we walked out together. I thanked her for staying with me and she said she was happy to. Said I’d been there for her all those times when she was sick, so she had to take care of me. My heart swelled and I got a little misty eyed. I told her she was a good daughter and that I loved her. She gave me a hug and a kiss and said she’d see me soon. We went our separate ways. She back to Livonia, me back to Tecumseh. As I was driving home I heard my favorite song by U2. It brightened me right up. I cranked it and sang along with the lyrics, It’s a Beautiful Day, don’t let it get away….. I may be in pain but the day really is quite beautiful indeed. Especially now that the pain meds have kicked in. Hope you all are having a beautiful day yourselves. I need a nap.