There is something therapeutic about handling dirt and watching things grow. Neglect, imperfection, accidents, ignorance. The beginning gardener faces many challenges, especially when the soil is foreign and your schedule is busy. But when you begin something new, you have to accept that there is always a learning curve. I’ve long since thrown out any fantasies about mastering new things immediately. I plod along with the mindset that roadblocks often give way to breakthroughs.
It feels natural to plant things and (try to) keep them alive. The rocky clay of the Ozarks has its qualities: steadfast and strong. It is the land of my people.
I have memories of riding with my grandfather across the cow fields, his trucker’s hat and neatly trimmed beard, the white, ever-aging, ever-present poodle he carried everywhere, his many pairs of gloves that we slipped on during the cold winter days when we would push hay bales into the field and watch the sky spread its arms over the Ozarks.
I feel his memory when I wear work gloves, when I slide open the backdoor and fell the air on my face. I learned to love the outdoors from my grandfather, how to enjoy the bite of crisp cold air. In the cow field my brother and I skipped rocks, ran from snakes and learned to drive. We were cowhands, and we loved it.