The Dirt & Grit of Life
My day of work is a well-oiled machine. I function on average at about 90%, with gaps of ups and downs. My work has become something that I love. It is a day in the field or a greenhouse or a barn. I am in a constant state of flow, have a weird tan, and am committed to the soil and the life that it gives. The days fly by slowly and then all at once, brimming with wonder and anticipation. I am a human exploring a way of life we thought we could abandon. At this age, I now know, there is value in looking ahead while reaching gently into the past. It balances us in the present. My hand skims the surface of where I came from as I gingerly approach what is next.
Here I have begun to build a tiny, but powerful, story of how one woman found her most heartfelt passion. I know it very well, because I wrote it myself. I wrote it every day.
The place we can start is at ages 9-14. I would consider this chapter the beginning. Up until these ages, I had been a girl with a nebula swarming around her. I gathered who I am from the world around me. Just like you, just like everyone. I was raised by a woman who wanted nothing but to live in the countryside with her family and her horses. She taught me about the dirt, the grit of life. I fell in love with the world all around me- the one that wasn’t inside any walls or showered with artificial light. It became the place where I could be quiet and part of it all. There was an old garden bed made out of rail road ties on the side of the garage. A lilac bush rounded out to the left attached in a bed made out of river stones. The slate tile walkway brittle and buried, I somehow ended up in there growing things. I honestly cannot pinpoint why I ended up there.
Either way, there I was. As I grew older, I traded my pony Minky for a sweet but slightly green Appaloosa gelding and named him Chili. We got two pygmy whethers, some chickens, a barn cat. I am not sure which came first or last. We lost one of the whether babies, Spanky, relatively early on. It was then that we got two Nubian does, Penney and Georgie. Penney was the color of beach sand, Georgie solid black with white markings. Then, I wanted a show goat. I was not only an active Goat Club 4her, I also bred Nigerian Dwarves for ADGA certified shows. The greatest gift I received as a child was an animal to care for and raise as my own. My days started and ended with them. When we had baby goats, I milked and bottle fed them with my younger sister. We learned about what life from conception to death looked like, somehow accepting that life isn’t ours to keep.
As I grew, so did my garden. I needed more space and there was a decent spot between my father’s barn and the goat pasture. My father helped me get setup with the rototiller and said good luck as I did what I had to do. I couldn’t tell you exactly what I grew, but I remember what it felt like. Unfortunately, puberty got the best of me and my moods pulled me away from all of this. It became uncool to smell like a barn. Looking back, I know it was because I already had a difficult time fitting in. I wanted to blend in. When I was in middle school, I remember being one of the last girls to start shaving her legs and wearing makeup. The only reason I wanted to was because everyone else was. Just like that, I began to smudge away my innocence.
I have held onto that feeling since. Until a few months ago, I didn’t even realize I was gripping it until my knuckles were white for so many years. The shaky foundation lifted me further into my adolescence, as I unknowingly began the true journey of discovering what being a person is. I, personally, dove right in. I wanted to write my life as if it were a story to be read, and I followed the plot before I even knew what the plot was.
When you look back on your youth and then at who you are today, what were the most defining moments? Did your childhood self know the answers to your questions today? Let me know in the comments below.