The hum of the tiller harmonized with the birds singing their gossip from the tops of the trees. Several stray bees danced a dizzy pattern near my head and I ducked to avoid them. The muscles in my husband's back knotted and twisted through his sweat soaked t shirt as he forced the swirling tines deeper into the ground, causing a pinwheel of black loam to churn outwards.
I used the rake to claw loose the detached strands of grass, pulling them into a heap at the corner of the large patch we were preparing for a new planting of featherweight flower seeds. The green aroma stored in the now mangled blades of grass saturated the air with fragrant liberation.
I knelt to dislodge a few rocks from the loose soil and the velvety softness of the fine earth captivated me. I plunged my hand further downwards until it was covered to my wrist with the rich blackness. Deep stillness and peace infused me.
A wiry grass snake, disturbed from his resting place, did not even fluster me as he undulated past my arm in pursuit of more settled surroundings.
A few more swipes with the rake and then the temptation overrode everything else. I slipped off my shoes and let my toes sink into the supple cushion of sod, more lush than the finest fabric. The rake fell away and I dug my feet all the way in. The warm top layer of dirt gave way to the cooler, moist layers. If I had paid for a spa treatment, I couldn't have been more luxuriously cosseted.
I knelt all the way down and inhaled deeply. The dirt, something I fight so heartily indoors, whispered gently to me. Old as the planet itself, it spoke of stability, of constancy, of the life that used to be and of the new life yet to come.
I plunged my hands in once more and felt something small and smooth. I pulled it up. It was a winsome brown button. I smiled. This was also a plot where my grandmother and my great grandmother before her tilled their gardens.
And that great continuum of what they put into the land and what it gave back to them, and what I was putting into the land and what it would give back to me, moved onward through its steady course.