Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Drivel - Can Dirt Make You Happy?

I recently read a news article where the author postulated that working with soil makes a person happy. The author believed that micro organisms in the soil were responsible. While the article wasn't very scientific, it did get my mind a-thinkin'. 

I recall that as I young child I loved to play in the dirt. Not just a kiddy sandbox, but real soil, mud, down on your hands & knees dirt. I'd make roads for toy cars and trucks, dig holes, make mud, create "castles", dig for worms. I disliked being indoors and was far happier being outside, preferably in the woods. I was always happy when I was doing something in the dirt. 

I was raised in a family of five kids. Not all of us liked to play in the dirt. So I wonder if I was some how genetically programmed to be attracted to soil, thus to farming. Perhaps something physically in soil triggered my genetic switch at an early age. Who knows. Perhaps it was some particular micro organism. 

To this day I like working with soil. I enjoy the feeling of good soil flowing through my fingers. I don't mind getting dirty. Walking barefoot through a freshly rototilled garden is a pleasure. Good moist soil even smells good, not just looks good to me. 

I'm often approached by others who wish to return to a simpler life on a small farm. Or maybe if not farming, then at least a nice garden. One of the questions I pose to them is how do they relate to soil. Do they enjoy the feel, smell, a look of garden soil? Would they be willing to lay down on fresh tilled soil and take a nap in the sun? Would the thought be enjoyable? Would they enjoy taking off their shoes and socks to stand or walk in soil? When I think about it now, it would be impossible for me to be a farmer if I didn't like soil. 
("Napping" at the community garden.)

I currently oversee a small community garden. Some of the people who have come there decidedly don't like soil. They dislike getting their clothing getting soiled and try to avoid getting their hands dirty. Guess what. They seldom last more than one day. But on the other hand the garden has several workers who obviously have a connection with soil. Besides getting dirty, I've watched them working with the soil. Some of those people like to dig, some like getting down on their hands and knees to groom the soil surface and plant seedlings, others run their fingers along the surface and gently smooth it before sowing seeds. It's nice to watch others enjoy the soil. They have the hearts of growers. 
(One happy digger!)

If it turns out that we gardeners and farmers are infected with soil micro organisms, well in my opinion, it's a very nice infection to have! 
As adults, some of us still love to play in the soil! 

1 comment:

  1. Organic inoculation, I think, more aptly describes that innate drive to get in touch with the good earth. I was deeply infused as a wee tot with the making of soil, having no problem helping my dad to harvest "pellets" from wild goats' sleeping areas, then digging holes to bury heaping handfuls of that stuff in the little garden patch he built behind the garage. We'd get really dirty, then he'd take me to the beach to jump in and get washed off. Whether it was the fun of helping in the garden, or the daily swims in the lagoon, I don't know. I just thank my dad for teaching me so much!