dirtHere’s some dishing the dirt. There will always be a bit of Nebraska farmer in me. I can’t help it if I feel a connection to digging in the dirt, er wait, soil. You may have heard me share before that my soil science instructor in college lectured about the difference between dirt and soil.

“Dirt is misplaced soil. Dirt is the stuff that gets under your fingernails,” my professor boomed with his commanding voice. “Dirt is what you drag into the house on your shoes.”

Got it, sir. Soil is where we grow our flowers, shrubs and vegetables. Garden soil. Potting soil. Topsoil. Got it, sir.

Itching to Dig in the Dir_, Soil

Last weekend I bought a bag or two of topsoil and potting soil to work on planting my annual flowers and replacing some perennials in my yard. Well, in semi-arid southeastern Colorado it actually rained throughout the entire Memorial Day weekend. Sigh. Much-needed moisture, just not on my schedule.

By Tuesday, my fingers were more than itching to dig into the dirt, er, soil, and plant my flowers. I’m still whittling away on carefully shimmying the delicate flowers and their hair-fine roots from their plastic containers and transplanting them in dir… er, soil.

Last night I was planting my array of bold and beautiful begonias and verbena from my deck table. The sun slipped behind Pikes Peak as I hurried to finish. But alas, I ran out of potting soil. That got me to thinking about a recent devotional I read about how vibrant wildflowers have built-in systems to survive without humans caring for them.

Digging Deep

Scientists (and probably my retired soil science professor) have discovered that when drought sets in and the rest of vegetation struggles, certain wildflowers turn to their own storage system. Instead of allowing their seeds to push through the soil, the plants store significant quantities of their seeds underground. When no rain falls, these clever plants are not panicked. They switch to their backup preservation mode. They dig deep with their seeds. They wait. They bend when life dares them to break. Talk about resiliency when the heat is on!

After the drought ends, the resourceful wildflowers release their saved seeds to flourish into new, vivid wildflowers. All this sounds a bit like us in these COVID post-quarantine days. This past year, many of us were ushered into a survival-style mode. We waited and endured for our businesses, activities, travel and much more to survive the drought of lockdowns and uncertainty. We longed for the drought of social distancing and severe health concerns to lift.

We, like certain well-designed wildflowers, dug deep in a backup preservation mode. We kept bending and flexing our way through the searing heat of life just feeling upside down. But we made it! The springtime rains are coming just like they did for my arid yard last weekend. Gorgeous new flowers are starting to bloom. Are you noticing?

So as I finish up my annual planting of my petunias, marigolds and pansies this weekend (just a week behind normal), I’ll be thinking of you. Here’s some more dishing the dirt. When I scrub the dirt from under my fingernails and sweep up the dirt from my deck, I’ll be thinking of my soil science professor. Got it, sir.