Digging in the Dirt

Digging in the Dirt

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Digging in the Dirt

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you. . . .

Leo Tolstoy

“Dig in the dirt with me, Noni.”

My three-year-old grandson, Ethan, stood in the kitchen with pleading eyes and a big spoon. I had two large clay pots with soil that needed changing, and he needed something to do—a perfect match. After getting the necessary digging utensil from the junk drawer, he’d rushed to the deck and sent dirt flying everywhere. I could just imagine my daughter’s reaction to his dirty clothes, but that was okay with me. As the grandma, I’m allowed to spoil.

It was hard to resist his invitation to play, but I had a meeting that night and I still had to fix supper.

“I can’t right now, honey. Noni’s busy.”

Ethan hung his head and stared at his shoes all the way back outside. Guilt hovered over me while I chopped celery and onions for meatloaf. Some grandma! But, I reasoned, it’s different being a grandmother these days. I’m younger, busier. I don’t have time to play like mine did when I was a child.

As I watched Ethan through the window, memories of a tea party with my grandmother surfaced. I remembered how Mammie filled my blue plastic teapot with coffee-milk and served toasted pound cake slathered in butter. She carried the tray as we walked to the patio and sat under the old magnolia tree that was full of fragrant, creamy-white blooms. I served the cake, poured the coffee into tiny plastic cups and stirred with an even tinier spoon. Our playtime probably lasted less than thirty minutes, and yet, after all these years, I still remembered.

Ethan saw me watching him and pointed to the pot. He had emptied it. I waved and nodded to him. Just then it dawned on me that my love for flowers came from Mammie. She had dug in the dirt with me. I recalled the new bag of potting soil and flower seeds I had in the garage. It would be fun to plant seeds and watch them grow with my little grandson.

I left my knife on the chopping block, found another old spoon and went outside.

“Noni can play now.”

Ethan clapped his dirty hands as I plopped down beside him. What fun we had that sunny afternoon. Supper was on time, and so was I for my meeting.

I learned the important life secret that Mammie always knew: there’s always time to play.

Linda Apple

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