All nine hens flap holes into the dry, talcum-fine dirt in the lower pasture. I’m on the other side of the fence, digging in the equally dry soil of the neglected garden, and the Bearded One screws in step boards on the new deck thirty feet away.
“You’re really getting after it,” he says to me.
“It feels so good,” I say. I’m trying to feel normal again after the big wedding week, which was great fun and a huge success, but I don’t feel like myself yet.
Garfield stretches out on the deck, enjoying the sunshine and the company. I was gone for three days, and I stayed indoors and clean just about the whole time.
The soil in these gardens needs more humus, I think. Water penetrates just an eighth of an inch and then rolls off. But this dirt feels surprisingly smooth and good on my skin. It even smells good. Wild weed scents — pepper, onion, mint.
The snap peas and sweet peas are far enough gone now, too, that I pull them to let the seeds dry out in the hoophouse.
I clean weeds out from under a cabbage I’m going to cut for the goats, who have come down the hill, rubbing hard against the fence. Lala paws the dirt, then plops down into his comfy spa hole.
Pearl’s white Pygora cashmere fleece is about two inches long now, and she kneels in the dirt, then rolls on her side and the dust puffs out around her in a cloud.
Sage spits out a plum pit, sinks into the dirt, and extends his right hoof just like Pearl has, as if to dry a manicure.
With my bare hands, I claw a dust bowl around a three-foot tall clump of prairie grass and yank it out in a small explosion of dirt. Then I brush my cheek with the tan dust as I swat a wild hair that has come loose. And then, making them match, I brush the other cheek. Now my nose is starting to itch…
* * *
I am the oldest person in the downtown Seattle salon where the entire bridal gang is “done”. I am also the Mother of the Bride (MOB), so they make a fuss and work extra hard.
Neesha — the make-up artist — blots talcum-fine brown liquid around my eyes and then down each cheek. It feels cool and thick and it dries fast. She is to work for a natural-with-polish look, my daughters say to her. Light lipstick, light eyeshadow, and eyeliner to make my eyes “pop”. Chantelle — the hair stylist — uses just five bobby pins to knot my hair in what I used to call a half-pony. She teases the top into a feathery nest, then smooths it over to match my sweeping bangs.
“I look beautiful!” I tell Garfield when I get home from the wedding late Saturday night. He doesn’t recognize me, and runs for his life.
* * *
Sage stomps and kicks up a dust tornado that floats slowly into the forest. He clacks his horns with Pearl.
Sweet Tart dirt-splashes the side-stroke, literally propped up on one wing. She sifts the dust through and between her feathers, which especially because of the Diatomaceous Earth (organic fossil flour) we add to this area, is very clean and healthy.
“Goats and chickens both really need dust baths,” says the Bearded One.
I sift the dust through my own fingers, admiring my black fingernails, and relax into my bone-dry garden. “Me too.”