Last night, I joined some of my favorite people at the Gardiner Museum to spend two hours doing pottery. I had eagerly accepted the invitation when it was offered, but on my way down, I was skeptical. While I thought it would be fun, I knew that I was really not a very visually creative person, and I thought I would suck at it.
And I did. I mean, I managed to manipulate my meager talents into a vessel that artistically benefited from a rough and gloriously indelicate hand, but that was more about understanding my limitations than soaring creatively.
But at the end of the evening, sculpted clay in front of me, I looked at my grey, chalky hands and thought, I loved this. I loved my rough, cute little creation and the fact that I had made it with my own two hands. I loved that my own two hands were filthy. Dirty.
Dove is messy. She and her sister can sit next to each other, in front of identical plates of food, armed with identical utensils and only a slight difference in motor-skill ability, and begin to eat, but the differences between the two by the end of the meal, are staggering. Bee will pick at her food in between storytelling, never one to pass up the opportunity to regale a rapt (and trapped) audience. She will soon ask to be excused, sporting a smudge of grated cheese on the apple of her cheek, or perhaps a swipe of tomato sauce on her upper lip. The spot where she sat will need only a cursory wipe during cleanup.
Dove, in comparison, will be almost unrecognizable. She will eat with speed and gusto and exuberance, asking for seconds and often thirds and perhaps she needs so many refills because only approximately 2/3 of the food she is served makes it into her mouth. The rest, well, look around. What is not on her lap, the floor, the table or her shirt is in her hair. Each night I am surprised anew at her ability to paint herself and her surroundings so thoroughly with her supper. Proudly she smiles, and that is when I notice her neck…
My garden is begging to be touched. The earth cries out to be turned, to be massaged; to be utilized. The plants and seeds I have already bought sit on the porch whispering, Don’t forget about me. I look at my desperate garden bed and blink quickly – the earth is literally undulating, reaching out for me, trying to raise itself up towards my hands. I swallow, and an earthworm breaks the surface, soil shifting off its back. I smile at my own ability to trust the impossible.
This weekend we will pull the weeds and trim back the remnants of last year’s foliage. We will rearrange the earth with our fingers before we plant the new flowers and seeds and begin to once again coax beauty from the sun-warmed soil. Our jeans will end up patched with grey and green and our faces will no doubt be smudged with black and when we look at our hands, there will be soil under our fingernails and in the creases of our palms and we will be equal and unabashed in our filthiness. Dirty.