Can you smell dirt at the end of the day?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

I say amen to that quote from Margaret Atwood, and I endorse smelling like dirt at the end of a warm spring day. However, I wonder if that happens anymore.

Do kids still dig in the dirt? Do they hunt for worms and bugs and lizards? Do our children know the joy of making mud pies and the feel of new grass between their toes?

Spring was a joyous time when I was a kid. It meant freedom from the confines of winter. Legs and arms and toes were free at last, free to feel the sun and to splash in puddles after a rain.

That first day without shoes was a gift beyond compare. How soft the earth felt, how nice to wiggle toes in the sand and tiptoe over slippery rocks in the creek. It was pure liberation that only a child knows how to experience.

I think, perhaps, we felt more connected to nature at that time in our lives. Maybe we lived a little closer to our source, to the energy that created us and everything else. Children understand that connection. At least I think children who grew up like I did understood it better than many adults do today. We felt the wind and knew it was the breath of the creator moving through the world.

Now, we might not have known this in the language of grownups, but we knew it in the perfect communication shared by young humans new to the world. Everyday was an adventure, an opportunity to experience something miraculous.

Spring was, and is, the time of miracles. How can we see things budding into existence all around us and not know that an amazing thing is happening. I think the very young, and perhaps the very old, understand it perfectly.

This time of year is a prayer answered, a reawakening of the spirit. It is a celebration of rebirth, of beginnings, of the continuation of life. It sings to us of all things new, of opportunities awaiting discovery. Children hear that song, at least we did when we were kids.

I wonder if the noise of cell phones, and computers and the other distractions the modern world offers children, offers all of us, drowns out that song. Do we ever get still and quiet enough to hear the voice of nature speaking to us? We did once.

Remember lying on your back looking up at the bright blue sky? Remember seeing clouds shaped like animals float by? Did you hear the whisper of a bee buzzing close to your ear and hum along with it?

When did we stop, stopping?

Recently, I read being busy, overly busy, is a considered a sign of success. Multitasking yourself into a frenzy means you have made it in the eyes of the world. You have arrived.

Nevertheless, I wonder exactly where it is we are “arriving” in this mad rush. I once asked a question in a relaxation seminar and got puzzled looks.

“Where are we rushing to get to — the grave?” I said.

Best I can tell this is where this race ends so maybe it is a good idea to make it a walk instead of a run.

Now, I know we have to live in the “real” world and stuff needs doing. Still, I think we can stand to take a break now and then, especially when spring is inviting us to come and to play for a while.

What would our children think if they saw the adults in their lives turn off their cell phones and televisions in favor of taking a barefoot walk in the yard at twilight?

Oh what wonders might grow inside of us all if we returned to the earth and for one spring day allowed ourselves to be covered in that sweet perfume of the smell of dirt.