For as long as I can remember, playing in the dirt has made me feel happy feels.
At our house growing up, there was a stretch of earth right by the water spigot out back that made for the perfect mud pit. We would bring our Star Wars action figures out there and create our own galaxy far, far away.
I enjoyed watching my mom dabble in the garden. Patiently pulling weeds, planting cheerful annuals along the front walkway and trimming the monstrous lilac bush.
When I was 2, my dirt-caked little face tried to eat a slug.
When we were a little older, Dad replaced the fence. We scavenged as many extra boards and loose, bent nails as we could and assembled a lopsided, tetanus-coated tree fort in the forgotten corner of the backyard. It felt like a palace! But I think I enjoyed the work of piecing it together and planning it out more than anything. I kept adding and changing things for several subsequent summers.
As with my love of the outdoors, my love of all things dirt and growing and building and tending was forgotten for many years. When I discovered alcohol I forgot about my self. But after I got sober, and right about the time when I was feeling very ready to start having babies, I rediscovered my nurturing urges and got back to it. Flipping sod and mulching lawn into garden bed, turning flower beds into vegetable patches, canning jam, foraging berries, researching chickens and crop rotations.
I’ve got a few growing seasons under my belt now. Lots of learning by doing (and some by reading), lots of cheap veggies and fun moments in the garden with my boys. Seriously, there’s nothing that makes me feel like a better mom than watching the boys, sitting in the dirt, sharing fresh, sun-warmed tomatoes. If anything, my desire to do these kinds of things has only been stoked by my puttering around in various gardens over the last decade.
This year, I signed up to be part of a local, biodynamic CSA. For volunteering four hours a week, I earn a box of fresh, organic, amazing veggies and fruits. Even better, I’m learning a little bit about farming, getting a taste for what’s involved in running a large scale operation, soaking up the beauty and the potential that is farm country, and meeting other people who also enjoy the dirt.
As I enter this rebuilding phase of my life, I’m trying to focus on the things that move me. What does Sarah want? Who am I? What does my future look like?
The answer is, a farm. It looks at least a little bit like a farm.
Maybe it’s a suburban ‘farm’ with a few chickens, some simple fruit trees, a bee hive and veggie gardens in place of a lawn. Maybe the universe will bring me a kind old farmer friend who wants someone to start taking over the family farm. Or maybe my dream of a ‘mom’une commune will materialize. A supportive, safe, beautiful, life-affirming sisterhood of single moms and dirt lovers growing their own food, raising their babies in nature.
Whatever it ends up being, it is good to know what one’s heart needs. I’ve not always been good about listening to mine and making efforts to fulfill it’s desires, but I’d like to start trying.