“This begins the season of dirty feet.” So quoth my friend this week after I sent her a picture of my stained soles. Planting a garden barefoot will do that to you.

I didn’t intend to get so dirty. I was merely doing a job. The plants and seeds needed in the ground, so I went to the garden. I got tired of the gritty stuff getting in my shoes so I just kicked them off.

Now what you gotta understand is that this is Nobusiness soil. It ain’t kind, nor easy to get along with. It’s the earthy version of a grumpy old man. It’s hard to even raise a fuss in that mess that alternates only between sticky mud and hard rock. There is, evidently, I’m sure, a brief window of moist goodness in between, but you would sooner be struck by lightning than witness it. It’s when I fight with this monstrosity that I begin to realize how my father’s pessimistic outlook was earned.

This stuff could probably be used to make block or perhaps line a battleship. It feels like it’s probably bullet proof, as it’s certainly hoe-proof. Clods just roll around each other like rocks as I continually try to till and work and finally just lay seed where I can. Anything that grows is certainly a miracle, and I feel all the more thankful at any crop.

It rained again this week, as it seems to do ever couple days at least, now, and the mud is never far from memory.

At lunch, a teacher says to me, “Ask that girl what she was doing this weekend.” Then she had to tell me how she was four-wheelin up on Hogback, and of course getting stuck is half the story and the other half of the fun. What these kids don’t realize is some of us used to do these things without the luxury of a cell phone to call for help. Your hind end walked off the mountain.

She proudly told me about the white pants that were covered in mud, and I understand the trophy in the loss. Some things must be sacrificed in the name of a good time. We were all young once.

These days, I would rather gather my mud on the way to the productive plants in my own yard than venturing out where I must be brought back. Stumbling into bed at dark is the norm now, and that’s alllll right with me.

What good is a dirt bike with clean tires? What good is a four wheel drive that you never use? What good are muck boots that have never felt a squish?

There is a geometric art to the angular patterns , left on our floors, from the soles of the boots, imprinted into and with the heart of our planet; deposited and left for us as accidental presents on the boards of our abodes.

Why do people feel better outside? In nature? Lots of ideas could be tossed around; the trees give us the air we breathe. We are nearer to more living things. It stands to reason, therefore, that we would feel more alive than when we are cut off from these things or two steps removed, as looking at them from a screen.

Anne Frank said, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles."

A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at meaganmorehead123@gmail.com.

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