I wonder if perhaps I was a farmer in my past life? I wonder if I had to stay inside my dark, cold wooden house through the long New England winters, waiting for the first approach of spring, when I could start the long season of growing once again.
Maybe in a past life I was settler in the wilderness of the New World, trying to find fertile soil to start a plot of corn and beans for my family. Can’t you just picture me, in a mob cap and homespun dress, using a wooden pitchfork to turn the soil on the first warm day of late winter?
Well, I can.
I’m sure that I was totally in tune with the earth in a past life. I’m positive that I was able to turn plain old rocky soil into something so rich and fertile that it fed my growing family throughout the winter.
How do I know this? Huh. Easy!
Because I swear to God, I love the smell of dirt in February and March! I love it. It’s like the best combination of aphrodisiac and power drink. I stand outside on days when the snow has receded enough to uncover clumps of semi-frozen mud. I tip my head back toward the barely warm sun and I breathe in so deep……!! My lungs expand, my oxygen level increases, my brain wakes up from its winter hibernation. I come alive again.
This morning is one of those mornings. It is very, very warm outside; almost 40 degrees! Paul and I walked the dogs, and I only had on a sweatshirt. The snow is nearly gone. Only little piles of filthy ice pellets remain. There is a thin layer of mud everywhere. I squished my way through it, loving the thick gooey feel of it under my boots. I could smell that rich, heavy earthy smell with every step. Dirt! Good old New England dirt! If I poked it with a stick (which of course I did), I could feel that the earth is still frozen solid. Even so, there was a layer of thawed muck on top of the frozen ground, and that was full of promise. The dead grass is even turning slightly green in some spots.
I know that the trees are still completely bare and that there isn’t a butterfly or a bee in sight. Still, the tips of the daffodils are visible. I can see shoots of daylillies and iris pushing their way through the dead leaves in my garden. If I squint my eyes just right, I can see little swelling buds on the tips of the lilac branches.
And I can smell dirt. Soil. Earth.
My pioneer farmer Colonial past self recognizes the smell and rejoices. “Huzzah!”, she shouts. “Tis nearly Spring!”