Time To Get Down and Dirty



This is what happens when you go to the garden center on a beautiful spring day.

I went in for a few ivy plants . . . as you can see I came away with much more. That is the risk you take when you visit the garden center on a beautiful spring day. Between the allure of the plants I also had time, it is Spring Break this week and day one was almost perfect.

I say almost because I started the day with a mammogram, but then I treated myself to a latte and then went to get my hair cut. On the way home I decided to pick up the ivy so I could replant the pots by my front door. Once there I had planned out my raised beds and my patio pots. So a car load later I made my way home.

I am on a deadline to finish book three and I diligently sat down and spilled about twelve-hundred words from my soul, before taking a gardening break. After an hour of mowing and playing in the dirt, I returned to write another thousand words before taking a pre-arranged conference call about an upcoming author’s panel I’m participating, in Greenville, South Carolina in May. Then I went back to the chapter and around a thousand words later, I was satisfied with Lizzie’s progress on her journey and I was drained of my creative juices. Another hour and a half in the garden and I feel charged again.

Charged and filthy dirty.  The only thing that could make this day better is if someone of the handsome and kind variety was whipping up dinner in the kitchen.  I love days like these when the ordinary things are enjoyed and savored. This is how I imagine the days will be when I move from teacher and writer to full-time writer.

There is something in the ancient part of my genes that responds to the garden. I don’t think my ancestors were city dwellers. I still yearn to be a genteel gardener whose gloves never get dirt on the inside and manages to still look presentable at the end of a session amongst the flowers. I blame Hollywood for this unattainable ideal. I’m happy to settle for dirt streaked limbs and face with my hair plastered against my head.

Gardening is life affirming. It stimulates the senses and inspires the artist within. I can hardly wait until I get to do it again tomorrow.


On The Dirty Side

My Legs after a stint in the garden

My Legs after a stint in the garden

I have waxed poetic about my garden in previous posts, making it sound much more enchanting than it probably is.  Our southern climate makes gardening a year-round activity.  when I bought my house and my yard was a blank slate I spent hours pouring over gardening books and drawing out ideas attempting to design a garden to rival the gardens featured on the pages of Southern Living.  I imagined wearing simple sundresses, a floppy straw hat and gloves as I would putter around the yard, with just slight perspiration and a flush to my cheek.  The epitome of a graceful southern lady in her charming garden. Well, the reality is far from the fantasy.  I do love working in the yard, it is much more satisfying than housework. However, I don’t perspire, I sweat, what seems like buckets, and it stings as it runs into my eyes.  I have learned to wear old paint and dirt stained clothes, as the picture above attests I get coated with dirt from head to toe. My flush is more like beet red as I overheat in the ninety degree weather.  About the only part of my gardening fantasy that meets the reality is a floppy straw hat I wear and the gloves that keep some of the dirt out of my fingernails. As I think about it, my dirty gardening is a great metaphor for life.  Life is not clean and neat and everything in it’s place (Can I use this as an excuse to avoid housework?) it is unpredictable, messy and hard work, but isn’t that what makes it interesting?  My character Addie, the heroine of my trilogy is about to become a first time home owner and I plan to have her dabble in gardening, I am pretty sure she will be a gardener like me. I have visions of some comedic scenes for Addie involving nature, tools and soil. I hope Addie will learn to love it as much as I do. After all, gardening and life are little more fun on the dirty side.