Get Dirty!

This is another re-post from a few years ago I was reminded of when I walked outside this morning. Nothing gives me an instant shot of happiness like the smell of spring, and more specifically, the smell of good old earth in spring. I played in dirt as a kid, I play in dirt now as a gardener, and I certainly expect to become a dirty old man. In the garden!

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 mere 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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106 responses to “Get Dirty!

  1. I love this post. I, too, love dirt, getting dirty, feeling my hands in soil.

  2. Still love your posts, Stuart! And getting down and dirty (in the earth soil) is one of my favorite things to do!

  3. You make dirt sound like delicious cake crumble!

  4. Some of my best days are working in my garden.

  5. shann273

    Love this story and I can almost smell the dirt right now. And I can relate to this growing up in the country. I once lost a shoe in mud running through a field after playing on the woods all day. I got smacked in the butt with a broom for that!

  6. Real dirt is great fun. The most interesting thing I’ve learned over the years is how different it is in different areas. Oregon coast dirt isn’t as dusty as Eastern Oregon dirt and Alaskan dirt, where I grew up, is sandier. Pulling up root veggies is so yummy, because of the scent of earth!

  7. It’s a thing. A gauge actually. Though we try to stay “presentable” here on the ranch, we measure the accomplishments of a day by the grime we shed on the porch. ❤

  8. For you, Stuart – a theme song! Dirt by Jon Gailmor. is the link – it’s in the recordings section under the album “Dirt”. Worth looking at. I’d post the whole thing here, but – rude. Enjoy as I did this post. Thanks!

  9. Karen’s

    So true but

  10. Marsha

    You need to post more – even reposts. I love dirt too. Funny when I am digging in the dig I never think about bugs or spiders – ever! You are right. It just feels good and smells good. May I repost this to my blog? Thanks Stuart.

  11. You really painted a great picture! I love dirt too! Even dirt from the flower store lol! Something about the smell of the earth just grounds and levels you. I “dig” it!

  12. Brought me back a few years of nostalgia. Yes we need to get down in the dirt.

  13. peggyjoan42

    Dirt is so wonderful to play in. Getting dirty is fun. Nature is wonderful. Nice post

  14. This post brought back wonderful memories of routing in the dirt of a pine forest and inhaling the peaty, earthy smell of life!

  15. Great reblog! Children don’t realise what fun they are missing stuck indoors on technology and missing out on nature!

  16. Growing up, my mom’s house had that really black dirt that’s great for growing things. I loved digging and planting. I have no idea what kind of dirt is at my new house, but I suspect it’s not as good. Regardless, when I asked for volunteers to help me this spring, one of my adult children piped up, “Me! I love playing in the dirt!” Guess I must’ve done something right.

  17. Reblogged this on Will Turnstone and commented:
    Here’s an essay on the Springtime of life that I hope you will enjoy.

  18. Great post! I’ve loved dirt ever since I was a kid. It’s just a good feeling. And I’ve been caught with my bare feet in mud more times than I can count. It’s like heaven.

  19. In poetic terms I would call your post ‘Ode to Heavenly Dirt’. Continue to have fun with dirt, Stuart!

  20. Thom Campbell

    Getting dirty is good clean fun! Great story!

  21. That first rain shower after the earth is turned and the blossoms are out is a joy to the nose also.

  22. Reblogging to sister site Success Inspirers World

  23. That was marvelous to read about your love of dirt. Who sweeps you off now???

  24. The bad thing about earth? Earthworms, yuck.
    Enjoy your day in the dirt 🙂

  25. I smiled the entire time I read your article. I was a dirt-digging country girl when I was growing up. To this day, I absolutely love the smell of wet dirt and freshly turned dirt. While I don’t garden (as in vegetable), I do dabble with flowers. Thank you for this walk down memory lane. I enjoyed your article very much.

  26. Nothing as good as the smell of earth in spring!

  27. I know exactly what you mean. I love the smell of good, overturned dirt. I enjoyed this post.

  28. Dirt is the essence of gardening! Love getting out the clippers and pruning the plants; digging up some soil to plant new plants; and, coming inside after a sweaty morning in the sun and yard for a good hot shower! We live in the South so it doesn’t take long to mix the good old dirt with slimy sweat!

  29. I’m right there with you. I LOVE getting my hands dirty in the garden. Meditative and healing.

  30. I love this blog post! Earth smells amazing doesn’t it?

  31. Let me be a child again. Let me enjoy the dirt and the filth without cogitation what the world would think. Lovely post 🌸

  32. That smell of newly damp dirt as the rains fall on dry earth. Your story reminded me of that. I’m grateful.

  33. For me it’s the first hint of Autumn rains that takes me back to being young, with my Mother in her veggie garden……and all the fun to be had…thank you for jogging my old memory.

  34. Good old honest muck. I was digging yesterday in the rain. I got wet and dirty, I didn’t care. I always had dirty jeans and dirty fingernails as a kid, from playing and having fun, not because of never having a wash. Damp earth is good, it provides our food 🙂

  35. Great post! Thanks for the follow. I love finding other like-minded bloggers.

  36. Wonderful! I can smell the dirt.

  37. Reading this post left me with such a warm comforting feeling – thanks for reposting it.

  38. Thanks Stuart. I can say this post is about me. To say I love dirt is an understatement.

  39. Ah, dirt, wonderful dirt. When I was about four I recall digging a hole in the garden. I was convinced if I kept at it long enough, I’d end up in China. Finally got there in 1991… To me, spring means ‘promise’ and I plant something every year. Enjoy your dirt. Muriel

  40. Stuart, This post made me smile. My dogs can’t resist the smell of dirt; they love puttering in the garden with my husband. I’m the one who washes the dirt from their paws. It’s a family affair…this dirt thing! (I also have fond memories of making mud pies in the old Marie Calendar pie tins when I was a kid!)

  41. What is it with boys and dirt!

  42. Count me as someone who likes to get out in a garden and get dirty.

  43. Oh how much I love that smell of warming soil in early spring!

  44. Oh! It’s like you know me or something! Real dirt is one of the things I miss most now that I have to garden on tables. Love your writing!

  45. Great visuals! I too like playing in the dirt as my garden can provide witness. Like you, it began as a kid, and returned in adulthood to help me reconnect with my inner self. Thanks for the memory!

  46. Your story made me smile today when I needed it most. Thank you. 🙂

  47. marcelino guerrero

    Dirt is Good. I also grew up this way.., outside in my play clothes. I spent many a day romping in the woods getting dirty. Digging in the dirt was more a chore then helping my dad landscape our yard. Now much older it’s me doing much the same digging in the dirt in my flower beds.

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