(22-27 September 1991) after James Whitcomb Riley
Digging isn’t hard if I take it slowly, turning the fresh dirt over the old. Even in the heat of September, the shade of the pistachio tree covers the yard in the afternoon. I lean on my shovel and breathe while a squirrel crosses the street on a phone line. The sun shines; dew falls; the flowers grow; compost decays; the mockingbird flashes white wing bands and glides up to sing from the neighbor’s antenna. The dark adobe dirt is hard when it’s dry but I balance on the edge of the shovel and my weight does all the work, at least enough to impress the neighbors. They stroll by with their dogs on leash and don’t seem to think that I enjoy this, but I know that I sweat less digging they they do during their morning jog, and I’m doing something useful. I want to dig the whole yard softer than the cover of a bed. We should be able to plant it with our hands and sink into it without getting muddy. Then I’ll build our picket fence, and the kid’s playhouse under the walnut tree, and keep the compost in the corner to turn over leaves and carrot tops. It’ll be easy; the hard things happen by themselves.