A Dipper Full for Everyone

Bloomin squash

I’ve been spending more time in the garden lately.

It all started at Kindred Gallery at Rosemary House Bed and Breakfast in Pittsboro, North Carolina. It was during an interview with noted folk artist Cher Shaffer. We were coming to the close of our second on camera visit when I ask her what she would recommend as a good thing for all of us to do in order to have greater peace and happiness in our lives.

“That’s easy,” she replied, “play in the dirt and do it often. It will help you connect with the earth and life”. I listened as she explained her thoughts. It seemed reasonable but it would be on my drive home that my mind would give it a good thinking over.

I had already done a bit of planting in the garden; however, I had not thought of it as playing in the dirt. But I could tell that Cher had been serious in her words. So, I committed to the idea. I knew it would be a challenge because it had been many years since I had done anything resembling playing in the dirt. So much so, that I honestly could not remember ever playing in the dirt.

While it has been a busy time for the show, I decided that working time in for dirt play was now on my must do list, even though I had no idea how it was going to work out.

We had already planted some tomato and cucumber plants; however, I knew we needed more plants. I decided to visit some new greenhouses in hopes of inspiration for new plants and to question plant people on how they play in the dirt.

I soon found out that I was not alone in how I thought about gardening. To some it’s a lot of work and not playful at all. That however was not the case with most of the people I spoke with. As it turns out the smell and feel of dirt brings happiness to many people.

With this idea in mind I purchased a wide variety of tomato, pepper, okra and other plants. I like dill, so I decide that an herb garden might also be a good idea.

I might have gone a bit overboard.

As I drove home, I though about all those plants and the task ahead and the more I thought about it the less playful I became. Unloading the car, I realized that I had almost 150 new plants. The first day I planted and watered one flat. The next day I did the same, and within a week I had them all planted. It was on the third day of this process that, as I was bending over planting pepper, I became a bit dizzy, so I took a knee in the dirt. For the first time during this process I was feeling the dirt. The smell was sweet, and the dirt was becoming playful. At that very moment I was flooded with memories of childhood times in the garden with my grandmother.

It was as if I was there again walking with her as she was giving each plant a dipper full of water. I could hear her say, “A dipper full for everyone.” I could see my Dad picking green beans in the summer. I was flooded with warm comforting memories of family now gone but still in the garden.

Every morning I get up early and go play in the dirt. I water the plants; everyone gets a “hello” and full dipper of water. They are all doing well and I have learned how to play in the dirt. And I can tell you one thing for sure – it’s a good thing.

Carl White is the executive producer and host of the award winning syndicated TV show “Carl White’s Life In the Carolinas.” Visit www.lifeinthecarolinas.com, email White at Carl@lifeinthecarolinas.com