Get Dirty

I’m going to be dirty today.

As a kid, Mama often met me on the back stoop as I came in from playing outside. With a broom in her hand she’d have me slowly turn in a circle while she brushed dirt from my blue jeans. She wasn’t against sweeping my bare legs either if I happened to be wearing shorts.

“Don’t bring that mess in this house.” She’d say. “Did you plan to get dirty?”

Well no. I hadn’t planned to. I was a kid. There was dirt. We met and fell in love. The end.

I remembered that this morning as I thought about where to plant some things in the yard. I still love dirt. Not potting soil in shiny garden-center bags. I don’t care for the sterile smell of plastic and perlite. I love real dirt. Earth.

One of the finest smells of spring is that first whiff of good clean soil. Sealed in by frigid winter, spring unlocks the distinct scents I first noticed as a kid. Dirt in our garden had a plain chalky smell, dirt in the yard had a more sour smell, and digging in the woods provided pungent aromas too delightful to describe.

Dirt smells good.

Dirt feels good too.

The powdery dirt in the garden stuck to our sweat when we worked the long rows and red clay in the yard felt almost oily as it clung to our fingers and hands. The different soils in the woods provided a variety of textures from mushy sludge along the creek to sandy light mix up on the hill.

As a kid who spent almost every day outside, I knew my dirt. Mama ended up sweeping off quite a lot from my pants before allowing me into the house. She didn’t sweep off just dirt, she swept off ground-in goodness and muddy proof of the fun I’d had that day. I didn’t plan to get dirty, it was just good luck.

Excited to get into the yard this morning, I remembered the happiness that digging, feeling, and smelling good old dirt can bring about. Coming home with blue jeans caked in mud for Mama to sweep off was never my goal. I’d had great fun in the dirt and the muddy jeans were just a byproduct of my good time. I never planned to get dirty.

Today I’ll put on blue jeans to dig in the yard and plant a few things. Along the way I’ll wipe my hands on my pants, feel the gritty soil stick to my skin, and marvel at how sweet the earth can smell when you stir it up a little.

Today I plan to get dirty.

Stuart M. Perkins

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398 Comments

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398 responses to “Get Dirty

  1. Aw your piece makes me miss the Midwest! The smell of the living earth is nonexistent in the scorched desert of the southwest…

  2. Reblogged this on sirtonie's Blog and commented:
    #TBT

  3. Best therapy in the world…getting dirty. Love it

  4. Grew up in Philly, cement only, not even a lawn. Finally managed to move to Florida because I just HAD to feel the dirt. Never regretted that part of the move. Dirt is sanity. Dirt, trees, weeds, wildflowers, dirt…

  5. You’re never too old to play in the dirt!!! 🙂

  6. Stuart you are such a great storyteller! Thanks for following me and I look forward to reading your work 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on stayfoolish2day and commented:
    It brings back the memories of childhood days when getting dirty was a fun!
    We all can easily savour our life through small acts like this.
    I’m too going to get dirty today.

  8. Love this story. Reminds me of my childhood days playing with dirt myself. Great story!!

  9. “I was a kid. There was dirt. We met and fell in love. The end.”. Fantastic line! Just taking a gander at your blog. Thanks for following me. I’m excited to follow you too!

  10. Wonderful. I loved the smell and feel of dirt when I was a child and I still do as an adult especially I can eat and see the results of messing with dirt.

  11. Thank you for stopping by my blog and following http://www.crystaltots.wordpress.com.. I do like this post reminds me of the days I played building castle with sand I sure felt good but mum saw it as extra work.. Kudos to our mums though..

  12. Now officially following your blog..

  13. kaxtone

    Reblogged this on KaXtone's Blog.

  14. One of my dearest memories from childhood is running outside after a storm with my. Sister and squishing our feet in the mud!

  15. I SO GET YOU!!! In South Texas, we have only two kinds of dirt… it’s either fine, pale dust or glittery sand that stings your skin when windy. If I came home with dark soiled spots on me, Momma knew I landed in cow patties!!!

  16. Jai

    Let us have mud fight 😀 superb choice 🙂

  17. This post remembered me of my childhood days, we used to get dirty everyday with all love with mother earth:-). Today also, I just love the smell of wet soil, especially in monsoon, it rejuvenates my soul. I just love it. Thanks for sharing this experience. And ya moms are always the best in sweeping dirt with their amazing love.

  18. “Well no. I hadn’t planned to. I was a kid. There was dirt. We met and fell in love. The end.”
    Flabbergasted! I am in utter shock of how well this piece was written! Everything, I could see all of it, the dirtied blue jeans, being dusted with a broom, the clay like mud plastered on your hands. Oh my gosh you’re such an amazing writer! Thank you so much for sharing! I anticipate your new pieces:D

  19. happiness is working in the yard pulling weeds (destruction) and planting seeds(Creation)

  20. This post remind me of the 12th chapter of Dandelion Wine. It’s about the first lawn cutting of the season and gardening and all that means for the grandpa in the book. If you have not read it, you really should. It’s lovely. Here’s an excerpt:

    “Lilacs on a bush are better than orchids. And dandelions and devil grass are better! Why? Because they bend you over and turn you away from all the people in the town for a little while and sweat you and get you down where you remember you got a nose again. And when you’re all to yourself that way, you’re really proud of yourself for a little while; you get to thinking things through, alone. Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is kin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder.”

  21. Loved this!! We grew up making mud pies , having mud fights, and being plain country kids. The best days were when you had to hose your clothes off before you were permitted entry to the house.

  22. trE

    Dirt was never my friend as a kid. My skin is easily irritable and dirt was a number one culprit. However, I was no stranger to its distant cousin sweat. Great read, way to stir up nostalgia.

  23. Gardening is where I get to recharge my soul. Working the dirt, feeding the plants and watching them grow.

  24. I’d say thanks for the memories, but I grew up in brick city in Syracuse, NY.
    What I can say is I enjoyed learning how the other half (really don’t know the percentages) lived.

  25. Amazing one! By reading this, today I’ve planned to get dirty too. 🙂

  26. “I was a kid. There was dirt. We met and fell in love. The end.”
    My favorite line. 🙂
    I am your polar opposite. I hate getting dirty, really hate it and will avoid doing certain things to stay clean. I’m guessing this is something I acquired as I grew because as a child, my younger brother and I would bake mud pies, create roads in the garden and drive our cars and trucks through the dirt. Great read! You’ve gained a follower.

  27. Good piece. Thanks for stopping by my blog, reading, and following. 🙂 — Suzanne

  28. Experience a new kind of dirt? Not really new, because it’s working dirt. It’s the smell of a leather belt several days after you’ve baled and stacked alfalfa for 5 or ten hours and it and jeans were soaked to the knees.

  29. I love dirt too. (: In fact, I used to eat it as a child. Sampled the dirt under the apple tree, the orange tree, from the flower pots… all different, all their own. Love your writing. Tight sentences packed with meaning and humor. So glad I stopped by and had a look around. Thank you for following my blog!

  30. I think I love this more than any post you’ve ever done, and that’s saying a LOT, because I love EVERY post you’ve ever done.

  31. baronvonrenteln

    Excellent writing, Congratulations

  32. jp121gigawatts

    There was dirt we met and fell in love the end. Nicely put.

  33. Stuart, I have read a few of your stories and have found them absolutely delightful. You brighten the corner where you are and the light shines outward beckoning us to come near. Thank You!

  34. Hahahaha! You have a cool writing style Mr Perkins 😉

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