You get your hands in it
Plant your roots in it
Dusty head lights dance with your boots in it (dirt)
You write her name on it
Spin your tires on it
Build your corn field, whiskey
Bonfires on it (dirt)
You bet your life on it (yeah)*
Under my nails, on my skin and in my eyes. Kansas brown, Oklahoma red, garden rich and cemetery old. A tangible something that is joyful and somber all at once.
I sink my fingers into it to heal.
When I need to think.
When I don’t want to think.
Before I sat down to write this, I had just finished digging Yukon Gold and Idaho Blue potatoes. I drank up the aroma that use to mesmerize me as a little girl and was grateful for the soil and motion that effectively buried the stresses of the week. Much of my grade school garden time was spent yanking weeds and sniffing the earthy, clumpy wonder of nutrients that surrounded the healthy white roots. My dad and grandpa nurtured it while my mom chased it around with a broom in our living room.
It’s that elm shade red rust clay
You grew up on
That plowed up ground
That your dad
Damned his luck on*
As I got older, interests turned from playing make-believe out in the trees to teenage boys with shy glances and whispered sweet nothings. The significance of dirt took on a new meaning.
We cursed the windy days and swirling dust storms that messed with our carefully sprayed eighties hair. We draped our dirty toes outside the windows of pick-up trucks flying down fettered roads. Young lovers held hands on hidden, Sleepy Hollow trails and wrote forever promises on the ground with fingers and sticks.
Her blue eyed
Summer time smile
Looks so good that it hurts
Makes you wanna build
A 10 percent down
White picket fence house on this dirt*
When I asked my son to come dig in the garden so I could get pictures for this story, he wanted to know what it was about. When I told him the concept and title, he looked skeptical. When I asked if he understood metaphors, a look of understanding crossed his face and he obliged by diving in for the deepest roots and soaking in the scent through his nostrils. He is my boy.
It feels like I’m sitting in a cyclone of emotions as I recount the Life is a Highway series and think about the places we’ve traveled together. It truly is all about the journey doesn’t it? Point A, Point B and the dirt that accumulates in the creases of your knuckles or between the toes during an adventure. And we are always thankful to the people who dust us off on stormy days.
I don’t mind a little dirt. In fact, it’s the first thing I reach for after a harsh winter, when too much time has been spent at a desk or my heart is heavy and my mind is racing. Dirt is the evidence that you dug the hole, made the promise and rubbed it on a wound when crying would have been easier.
What fun would a journey be if we didn’t get a little dirty?
You’ve mixed some sweat with it
Taken a shovel to it
You’ve stuck some crosses and some painted
Goal posts through it (dirt)
You know you came from it (dirt)
And some day you’ll return to*
Please listen to the song when you have a chance. It’s their story of dirt than inspired mine.
This post marks the last in the Life in a Highway series. Special thanks to the guest writers who made this more meaningful and poignant than I could have ever imagined. You are welcome at my house any time…as long as you don’t mind a little dirt in the corners.
If you missed any guest posts, here they are in order of appearance:
Home is Where the Heart Is: Chad Parks
Whiskey Nights: Nicole Marie (note: Nicole was Freshly Pressed for this!!)
Mountain Mama: Beth Tehilo
Rest Stop Ahead: Deanna Herrmann
Vantage Point: Nadia
If you’re afraid of a journey, don’t buy shoes: Christy and Jennie
Thank you again to everyone for coming along on the trip. It’s always more fun when you’re with friends. xo