Earth Surgery: Working on Behalf of Spring


             It’s spring now! I used to take the transition from winter to spring for granted. Without thinking too much about it, I connected shorts, flip-flops, and a little rain with the flowers blooming and gardens coming to life. In my more recent adult years, however, I have come to better appreciate the work and the satisfaction of actually playing a role in this transition. At first glance, the initial steps of this process seem mundane and punishing. That being said, I register the second glance pretty quickly, and doing so makes me forget about all the negative parts of the first one.

            First, there are dead leaves and branches to clip, rake, and compost. There are weeds to pull. There are thick tufts of cheatgrass bindweed with sprawling and tangled roots deeply imbedded in the soil. This work is repetitive, time-consuming, strenuous, but someone has to do it. Deposits of leaves can seem endless, progress when pulling intruding grass is slow, and roots often break in my fingers leaving the majority of the weed I’m pulling stuck in the soil, ready to make its return. But most of the time, they don’t break, and I experience a visceral pleasure when I feel whole roots releasing their grip on the soil that is meant for the flowers and herbs we plant. This work makes me feel more like an earth surgeon going in to remove terrestrial infections so that the gardens who are my patients can look and feel better. This work makes me feel like I’m actually helping spring to arrive.

            I also don’t have to worry too much about the slow progress because I’m not alone. I am often working with Space & Thyme founders Hanna and Miriam. At times, I feel demoralized when I compare my progress with how much more of the garden remains. However, I often feel the opposite as soon as I notice someone else’s progress on another area. Becoming aware of others and their headway inspires a mixture of competition and camaraderie in me. I want to keep up. I want to prove that I can weed and clean just as much, if not more space. I also want to contribute. I want to be a part of the shared experience of helping spring to arrive to the plot of land on which we are working.

            The best part is that everyone can help clear the way for spring, and no one has to do it alone. On top of that, this is Colorado, and competitive camaraderie in the outdoors is a given. The opportunity is everywhere, waiting for more people to take advantage of it. So go out and recruit your fellow earth surgeons, make some t-shirts, and find out how you can heal your soil.