I am a woman who is very easily entertained these days. As I blissfully loaded 10 bags of garden soil into our truck recently I realized that at the age of 24 I would not have found joy in that moment. I probably wouldn't have created that moment.
At that time I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and I didn't even give my brown thumb an opportunity to prove itself. I knew it was brown and my house plants agreed. The high desert around me was lush and colorful in its own way and that was plenty of landscape for me. I did spend time outside - traipsing through the mountains to cut the winter's wood supply, running in my slippers out to the wood pile so I could keep the woodstove cooking, riding horses on my friend's ranch and sitting in the sun playing my guitar. Living in Santa Fe, you can't be surrounded by that much natural beauty and not feel connected to it. Thanks to the Sangre de Cristos, the sky, the smell of pinon and the clarity of the light, being close to nature came easy.
These days in Austin I am also surrounded by natural beauty, but it is often overpowered by traffic, people, high rises and highways. I have to make an extra effort to drink in the nectar of life in its many disguises. Loading all those bags of dirt I know that soon I will be tearing in to them and adding the rich mixture to my gardens and flower beds. I know that I will inhale its dampness and perhaps hear a redbird trilling on the telephone wire above me; I will notice a worm and wonder if it was a bonus prize in the dirt I just purchased or if he had been napping deep in the soil that I am now ferociously turning; I will feel a shift in the wind and a shower of tough, brown oak leaves will rain down on me.
Investing in ten bags of dirt is a confirmation that this work that I love is in my future. I am 54 and it turns out all that talk about menopause ushering in a new way of being and a rearranging of priorities is absolutely true. The young woman with the brown thumb would be stunned to see the simple pleasures that I now yearn for. But the little girl of 4 who loved to romp through meadows and lay in piles of hay probably wouldn't be all that surprised.