Dirt Addiction

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Since a young age, I have been like most boys. (This is dismissing any unique warping or branding done by my parents to make me uniquely me.)  I like playing in the dirt.  I remember the many sand castles (for the purposes of our discussion, sand = dirt = mud = clay).  I remember the many hours spent working in my parents garden (my wife and I also had a garden, but since my adult gardening time was balanced with the parenting  of a couple or preschoolers, the memories are less vivid.) I weeding, hoeing or grabbing the potatoes after my dad dug them up.  There is something special in my epidermis that seems to at times crave the feel of dirt cascading over my skin.

I had one such experience again last week.   This March in Texas the rainless days have been scarce.  With the clouds being present and the weatherman proclaiming my likely success of staying dry, I drove to the plant store in the mid-morning. In previous years, this plant store had a “branch” [good choice in words since I am talking plants, huh?] less than 10 minutes from the house.  Due to Texas and its access roads and the GPS not quite caught up with the slight changes in the exit ramps, I have yet to make it to the “new” store the quick way.  (about 20 minutes by the GPS)  The sod was the first thing on my list.  The sod was a definite acquisition and passenger on my drive home.  The “full sun” plant options left me vacillating between “cool” and reliable.  And, when I thought I had it figured out I introduced, “What would my wife like?” to the equation.  I bought some really nice geraniums to possibly make up (one of her favorites) for any sins I may have committed with my perennial choices.

This is where the “dirtiness” of my past comes into the picture.  Although I gave some thought to wearing gloves, I refused for a couple of reasons.  Yes, gloves are cumbersome.  Yes, dirt under the fingernails is not sexy by nearly any standards…unless you are an ape or something maybe. After weighing the pros and cons I had available to myself at the moment, I chose to go gloveless.  The tactile part of the planting process just out voted any of the negatives of going without gloves.  Feeling the roots and associating the visual varieties of bed material (sand, clay, potting material from last years annuals, last falls remaining leaves, and any rocks or roots that have chosen to venture beyond their designated places) with how they feel is so peacefully pleasant….at least to me.

As I stood back and admired my completed work after a couple of hours of planted, I realized my hands would need to have a few layers of dirt removed.  And, it was at this point, I realized the next few days would wear an asterisk. These would be days where I would be wearing a Vaseline sock.  Huh, you say?  Let me explain.

Using a trowel without gloves, gives one a proclivity to developing large blisters in the palm of your hand.  And, I had a big one!  As I stayed focused on my planting, the blister graduated past the “full of liquid” stage and went right to “Ow! Look what I did!”

What is the “glove”?  It was an old basketball sock with finger holes cut out.  I placed a good dab of vaseline in my hand before putting it on.  Without it, I would leave vaseline on my mouse pad, pillow and anywhere else I frequented during the course of a normal day.

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The “glove” came into play pretty quickly after the injury.  As the natural healing process took place (you know the process…it is the itchy feeling with waves of great intensity.  So intense I at times felt I could look down into the palm of my hand and see a hole through my palm where some flesh eating bacteria had enjoyed a very ample meal.), I tried to keep the palm soft rather than the dry non-malleable surface it had become.

A week after the injury and I am nearly past the “gnaw my wrist” off itching.  In retrospect, the use of gloves will likely not be vetoed next time.  I am retiring my vaseline glove.  The close and intimate feeling of a gloveless hand removing dirt with a trowel is still pretty awesome.   Palms that are not heat-sensitive, super-itchy, and able to fully stretch without nearly pulling the shriveled palm flesh off of the bone is REALLY awesome too!

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