The Dirt Under My Nails

When I was a girl, the neighborhood kids played outside from the moment we were excused from the dinner table each evening until the moment the street lights came on.  And if we didn’t respond immediately to those tell-tale lights, we soon heard the whistles or calls from our mothers.  My mother, like many others, had developed her own signature call.  When she yelled out “Leeeeee–saaaaa,” it was loud enough to be heard anywhere in a two block radius.  So at dusk, we kids went a-running toward home.

And we were feeling tired and content and peaceful.  And we were covered in dirt.

At bath or shower time each evening, my mother always called into the bathroom, with the same friendly reminders….

“Lee- Don’t forget to wash behind your ears?”  –yes, mom, I’d reply

“Lee- Don’t forget to really wash  your ankles?  – yes, mom, I’d reply

Now as an adult, how often do you actually get dirt behind your ears?  And sure, your hands get dirty……. but your ankles?   When was the last time that you had to pay extra attention to really washing your ankles?  Cause it takes some pretty serious playing to get your ankles that dirty.

But way back in childhood, we did get dirty, behind the ears and around the ankles… in the face and neck and knees and pretty much any area that wasn’t covered in clothing…and some areas that were.

As adults, though, unless we hold a job that involves getting dirty professionally, most of us don’t find many occasions to get covered in filth.

And this might be one reason why so many of us enjoy gardening……

Today was a glorious Sunday, and at my house, we installed a small flower bed in a shady area where the grass was patchy.  After a couple of hours of digging and weeding and raking and planting and then watering and finally spreading grass seed along the edges, we finished the job.

flower bedAnd we were feeling tired and content and peaceful.  And we were covered in dirt.

As I type this, I have cleaned up the basics.  There isn’t mulch and dirt on my knees and shins anymore and I do not have soil ground into my hands.  And I’ve dusted the bits of grass and weeds from my clothes and from my hair.

Soon, I will be jumping into the shower, following those same reminders that my mother shared every evening in my youth.  My ears and ankles will be thoroughly cleaned.

But for now, there is still a fine line of grime under every one of my fingernails………and I think I will leave it there, at least for an hour or so.

A bit of dirt…..evidence of a day well spent.

I can almost hear my mother’s voice in the distance….”Leeeee-saaaaa.”

Better get a-running.


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About Lisa

Lisa has two active blogs on Wordpress. Views from the RoofTop started as a blog space to share about crafting and using repurposed materials to make useful housewares and about my craft shop's mascot, RoofTop Chalie, the repurposed racing greyhound. It has evolved into a space to also share about the things in life that intrigue and inspire me. GAMES GAMES GAMES started because people asked Lisa to share many of the silly and fun games that are staples at her holiday parties.
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4 Responses to The Dirt Under My Nails

  1. I have occasion each year to do the same thing in the small beds at Deb’s and my Dad’s. This year I have a dead shrub to extract at Deb’s, so I will probably be a lot dirtier than usual.

    My Mom called me in with a sharp, loud whistle that I could hear anywhere in the woods or schoolyard. I’ve never been able to whistle that loud, myself.

    • I wish the “hollering mom” was still socially acceptable. Nowadays, when we need our kids to return home, we text them.

      A few years ago, Jake went out on a snow day to see if any of his friends wanted to play and he left his cell phone behind. I tried the hollering mom thing, but Jake, just a block away, never heard me. I did startle a few neighbors though and several homes opened their doors to see if I was okay. .

  2. sharon Bingaman Carrozza says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I really enjoy all the posts. This latest one with dirty nails brought back good memories of getting those flower beds in shape and putting in new ones to add a bright spot or hide an unsightly area. It also brought back the same memories from childhood. It reminds us that past, present and future are not separate but all in one. This reminds me of the African concept of “Sankofa” which says that we must return to the past to extract what lessons we can , to apply those to the present and also to be used in moving forward into a thriving future. Hope the flower beds thrive.

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