I dig my fingers into the earth, raking aside clumps of mud that cling to my gloves, reminding me vaguely of the way wet bread dough sticks to an unfloured surface. No kneading being done here though, just a little excavation happening in a small plot of dirt located directly beneath my living room window. For most of the year, this plot is decorated with fallen leaves from the century-old maple that sprawls above. But this spring, I’m determined to change it into a garden – more specifically, a garden planted with carrots. So the leaves have been raked, the rogue weeds pulled, and I now find myself kneeling upon the ground in what is soon to be the best garden on my street (or so I hope).
I’ve given up on my trowel as it just wasn’t as therapeutic as pulling and digging with my hands, and so I work my fingers into the earth, making three, long rows for my carrot seeds. I scrape aside some unknown plant that has long-since perished and soon come across one of the roots of the maple tree. Anchored steadily into the ground, it snakes endlessly beneath the surface like some gigantic python. A little more digging reveals a lonely tulip bulb. I pull it out and set it aside; I’ll plant that somewhere else.
Ants spill hurriedly from the earth as I continue to dig my rows, scrabbling over one another as they try to get away from the monster that has crashed into their home. A much slower, milky white grub writhes against its discovery, vampire-like in its repulsion at the sun shining upon its glossy body. A robin, red-breasted and twittering, soars down from one of the maple’s branches and lands a few feet away, all eyes on the grub that has begun its slow descent back into the cool dampness of the earth.
I finish digging and sit back to admire my handiwork. All looks good. I tear open the packet of carrot seeds, revealing the surprisingly small, brown seeds that jostle and rattle around, eager to be planted. “An inch deep” listed the instructions for planting and I drop the seeds into the rows, three clusters at a time, before I tuck them in with a blanket of earth and give them a quick shower with the watering can.
A rabbit is watching me from afar, nose twitching in my direction. If my carrots sprout and then disappear, I know who will be to blame. But for now, my seeds stay safely cradled underground. I can imagine them now, snuggling into their earthy bed, anchoring down into their new home with eager roots, awaiting the day when their shoots will sprout to see the sun and become the fully fledged carrots that they are meant to be.
Hilary Hirtle is a freelance writer and editor. She is an avid nature enthusiast and environmental activist. She currently resides in Westerville, OH.
Photo by Denis And Yulia Pogostins