By Anne Maxwell
I can sum up my childhood with just one four-letter word.
Don’t panic about the turn this is going to take, just keep reading. Trust me, this is a clean post.
Well sort of.
That four-letter word?
Growing up a Kansas farm girl, dirt surrounded me at every turn, and lingers in my senses to this day.
I can smell the sweet soil clasped in the palm of my father’s hand while checking for moisture depth in the early spring.
I can feel the powder-like texture cascading through my fingers as my sister and sifted the soft mounds we’d shaped on a drought-ridden afternoon in July.
I can taste the grit in my teeth rising from the tire tracks of our bikes as we pedaled down the dusty drive.
And I can see the brownish-gray haze hovering in the air long after a grain truck blazed its way past our farm.
The life-giving organic matter that coated my childhood wasn’t a bother. I embraced it and spent countless days using it for my own entertainment. Water and dirt mean mud pies, mud puddles and best of all, mud fights.
Yet, even from a young age, I knew the most amazing aspect of that dirt was the life that sprung forth from its furrows. A freshly plowed field of that ever-present turned earth meant something was soon to be sown and a new cycle would begin.
First came the planting. Then, the waiting. Followed by praying for rain. And, possibly, praying for rain to stop. Thanking God for all He granted with the land. And then, harvest.
I’ve never tired of it. I don’t believe I ever will. While my feet may not still be planted on that dirt that my family farms, it’s where I remain.
I never see a cloud billowing up in the west and wonder about how it will affect my social plans. Instead, I think,“What does this mean to farmers? Do the crops need rain right now, or are they trying to plant?”
As residents on the edge of a small town, we are blessed to have farm ground as our backyard view with a front-row seat to the planting, fertilizing and harvesting that takes place by the family caring for the land. I especially enjoy it when I see the kids in tow, stepping out of the tractor or combine, huge grins on their faces, covered in a bit of -- you guessed it -- dirt.
Throughout this summer, we have been treated to the humbling view that this family’s labor has afforded. Lush and green, thick and full, a field of soybeans fills the expanse behind us. I enjoy it for now, knowing the crop will soon be harvested as this growing season nears completion. When the blur of activity clears, I know my thoughts will turn to the approaching planting season, the promise of new growth, and the emergence of a new crop.
Sometimes, I walk out to the edge of my yard, pick up a handful of soil and smile as it sifts through my fingers. I gently rub my hands together to brush the dirt from my hands -- but not completely. A sheen of dust reminds me there’s so much more to dirt than merely the ground beneath my feet.
It’s a haven of hope for all that will grow.
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