Air

Yesterday I moved three posts in my garden. I set them in the ground last year to prop up raspberry vines, but the vines struggled under too much direct sunlight. There’s a shadier corner inside my fence, so yesterday I moved the berry posts over there.

It’s hard work setting a post, mostly in digging the hole. There’s a clapper-mouthed tool with two handles, so you can grab a chunk of earth and lift it out – then drop the tool back into the hole and grab another mouthful of dirt deeper down. There’s something about the physics of it – holding my arms out in front; pushing, squeezing, pulling up the earth – that exhausts me almost immediately. I test that feeling: to a point, right through the ache, summoning all my strength will move things just a little more – and then it won’t. All the force I can possibly muster fails, and my arms give up.

I’m trying to build a relationship with these few acres. I have a desire (most of us have forgotten) to be part of the ground I walk on; to think, “Here, I will grow this. Here, I will die.”

There are several acres, and I am just one man. If I chose to put in fifty posts, it would be easier. I would imagine where to put them and how they should look, then pay someone to do the job.

But I’m not here to look at the garden, really. Not that I don’t – I do a lot of staring at plants. It’s just that enjoyment isn’t my deep purpose for being here.

I’m lucky. I get real satisfaction from standing a post in the ground with my own hands; with getting dirt on my pants. And the ground changes. The land becomes more of me; of what I am. And it’s hard work. It strains me. If I am fortunate, I will be beneath my own trees on the day it strains me and I die.

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