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For The Love Of The Blooms

My mother was all about dirt. On one hand, she was yelling at her children for tracking dirt onto the newly washed kitchen floor. On the other hand, she would push us out the back door where a very healthy plot of dirt was one of our favorite places to play. It was a full-on mini construction site with Tonka trucks and a sprinkling of Army vehicles and G.I. Joes sharing the roads constantly being built.

With seven brothers, my sisters and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we would always be cleaning up the dirt that followed the boys into the house. We also learned to dig in the dirt right along with them, although they drew the line when we introduced our Barbie dolls to the mix.

Mom’s biggest complaint about the dirt pile was the loss of all the tablespoons we took from the kitchen drawer. We used them to carve out our version of Interstate 70 that was simultaneously under construction within earshot of our backyard. It was nothing unusual to hear the dynamite blasts as crews were creating the Wheeling Tunnel as we know it today.

At times there would be so many children in the dirt pile — including neighbor kids — that Mom gave up counting how many PB&J sandwiches to make to feed the hungry crew. A huge tree shaded our dirt pile. Even a light rain shower did not deter us from playing there. We loved cooling mud on a hot summer day. Then the garden hose would be put into service before we would be given re-entry into the house.

Mom swore that exposing us to good, rich earth kept many childhood illnesses at bay. She must have been right because I don’t remember any of us regularly being sick with colds and stomach ailments.

Our mother’s relationship with dirt included a number of gardens. She loved getting her hands dirty when planting. The yard always had a mishmash of her favorite flowers including lilies of the valley, peonies and roses. There also, when time allowed, was a patch of ground dug up for tomato and pepper plants. She also enjoyed clipping fresh mint from the wild group of plants located at the bottom of the backdoor steps.

In a neighborhood where professional gardening crews visited adjacent properties, my mother could be found sitting on the sidewalk in front and around the side of the house as she tended her plants.

She was one of those rare people who actually enjoyed weeding her garden.

The month of May was our Mom’s month. Her birthday often fell on Mother’s Day making it an especially big day for celebrating. And her front porch would be lined with hanging baskets and bouquets of colorful blooms. Her love of flowers was transposed onto many of her kids, and she would share cuttings to start our own plants.

I was glad that Mom was around to see my roses blooming in front of my own house. I think she was glad that part of her legacy included her love of flowers — dirt and all.

Happy Digging in the Dirt Day!

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