In times of stress, my husband likes to quote a saying of his beloved grandfather: "You've got to eat a peck of dirt before you die." Joni Tevis writes beautifully about eating dirt in "I Keep a Jar of Clay Beside my Bed," but frankly, I'd rather read it than eat it. Nevertheless, today I made some progress toward eating my quota of dirt.
It started in the carrot patch, where I was pulling up weeds between the feathery carrot plumes. Occasionally a tiny carrot would come up along with a weed, which is a shame because you can't exactly put them back in the ground once they're out. Should I toss throw the carrot in the weed pile and let it rot or put it to better use?
I brushed the dirt off on the edge of my none-too-clean shirt and popped the tiny carrot into my mouth. It tasted like the condensed essence of carrot, bright and sweet and marvelously crunchy, with just a hint of grit to remind me where it came from.
After the carrots I progressed to the weed-eating, which became far too literal for my tastes. I protect my eyes with goggles and my ears with earplugs, but every time I open my mouth, some big wad of wet weed comes flying straight in, as if the mechanical monster has decided that its duty is to serve me freshly cut grass clippings. Blech. I came in plastered with green and brown gunk and suffering from a persistent icky taste in my mouth.
A shower took care of my coating of clippings and some fresh blueberry tart drove the taste of dirt from my mouth, but all in all, I ended up with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment: That's one more parcel of my peck of dirt I won't have to eat again.