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Do you remember when your fingers first touched soil?

Perhaps your mother found you in the yard, covered in the stuff and quickly swept you off into the kitchen sink or bath tub for a scrub.

Remember those rough passes of the washcloth?

Perhaps you were left to explore, to taste, to roll, to laugh—an early imprint that would last a lifetime.

I was one of those children, who straddled a horse before I could walk; who was left in the garden to explore; who while running encountered a roofing nail in my foot; who inhaled a bee while running to see Papa George across the apple orchard — these memories imprinted before the age of seven.

I am now sixty-three.

Yet I still dig in the soil. Despite the aches and pains of pulled muscles, the cursing when bitten by dastardly insects, the relentless competition of weed populations, I continue to toil.

Could hardly wait to return to my hometown roots and establish my patch of ground —even while living in a tiny condo in a huge city, I claimed and cultivated the small area outside my door.

Another spring, another chore, another season to orchestrate. The miracle of cultivation never fails to call, inspire, reward, and sustain. I surmise that toiling in the soil grounds and otherwise nudges me to become more resilient.

This day I hear my mother’s voice of long ago—you can take the girl out of the country, yet you can never take the country out of the girl.

Now where is my spade?