Water the Dirt

I think it’s obvious I’m a big fan of making the best of a situation. When my daughters were very small and I was a young, single mom struggling to create a career, I never had the funds for a highly polished and landscaped living situation. We always had to make due with a fixer-upper rent house, and I’d try to get the landlord to pay the water bill. I smile now as I remember standing in the dirt at the end of a very long work day, a citronella candle burning on the front porch and a watering hose in my hand.

Watering plants can be satisfying, almost like a meditation, but watering dirt requires a strong faith in, and hope for, the future. As I water, I visualize sprigs of grass where I’m sure a lawn once thrived, and flowering shrubs in the beds next to the house, planted by a previous tenant. I imagine they lay dormant under the dry earth, waiting for just a little encouragement.

It didn’t take long before I saw sprigs of grass sprouting in the once-barren dirt and I’d pay special attention to these. Often when I didn’t have time to do the whole yard, I’d just soak just those tiny, hopeful sprouts. And they spread. Eventually these would connect with other tiny, hopeful sprouts and we would have a green lawn of sorts, with holes. Then, I’d hand water the holes.

When I bought the property where my salon is now, we had to remove about five years of oak tree leaves to create a front yard and parking lot behind my new old farmhouse. The ground beneath the leaves was rich and black, but barren. So, when the leaves were finally gone I started watering the dirt. In about a year winter rye popped up in the back area and one side of my front yard had grass. As I watered the dirt in the other side, a client walked by. “What are you doing?” she asked me. “I’m watering my lawn”, I said. “Well, it looks like you’re watering dirt!” she said. I smiled, because that was exactly what I was doing.

I think about this frequently while looking at our new reality, the social distancing life style, the radical changes in our once-secure jobs and finances, the cavernous divide in relationships because of idealogical differences. How interesting it is that so many people rebel against the most basic of the changes in our daily lives. They want things back the way they were. They want their green lawn, now. But now is the time for us to look for the sprouts, the tiny signs of possible growth in a scorched earth.

I have a friend whose college professor told him to “Look at who is still working through this pandemic—Those professions are the future”. So we could do the same thing with our lives. Where is the spark of inspiration, the movement (no matter how tiny), the sprig of green? Pay attention and water it. You never know what kind of lush green new possibility will grow from it and it just might make you happy. Happier, possibly, than your old reality.

Soon you won’t be watering dirt anymore.


  1. Leashya · June 4, 2020

    Yes. Yes to all of this. Thank you for sharing your words and wisdom. May we all water the dirt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ralph · June 2, 2020

    I like your writing it flows very well. Like gentle poetry pulling from simple and honest notions that appeals to a broad spectrum.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. pippipip · June 2, 2020

    As always – your words are like a series of Burma Shave billboards and I can’t wait to speed on to the next
    I read and re-read
    Always a great trip to take.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. mollie · June 1, 2020

    what a beautiful perfect analogy. i’m going to write a magnetic poetry poem on my fridge about watering my dirt. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

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