We have now been back from Europe longer than we were gone. When we first arrived at home, we would catch ourselves looking at our blog in order to remind ourselves that we actually did go. It seriously felt like we had never left. Now, however, three months later, it seems appropriate and prudent to look back and see how we have changed since we left – because even though we weren’t gone that long (at least as far as real long term travel is concerned), it really has changed us significantly.
One major thing that has changed is our relationship with our food. I suppose that we have always believed that we should eat less processed food and avoid unsustainable agriculture and all of the chemicals that find their way into our foods. But, after seeing how much joy other cultures take in their simple food traditions, it seems somewhat preposterous to continue eating as we once did. In Italy, for example, the food is often very simple in nature – just a few really high quality ingredients mixed together in a handful of ways. Having been there for over 30 days in our travels, though, we can totally understand why they are so in love with their food. It is incredible!
Between this resolution of eating more simply, cleanly, and having caught the gardening bug from my father, who is my go-to for all questions regarding plants, we decided to expand our garden in order to make it more organized, larger, and more sustainable.
Unfortunately, the soil in West Bountiful isn’t exactly garden friendly. Beneath our struggling grass lies about a 1/3″ of topsoil. Beneath that, the grass roots survive mainly in either water-logged clay (when it rains), or total cement (when it doesn’t). With the soil’s poor drainage in mind and since our soil compacts so easily we decided to build small raised bed rows between them to help us avoid compacting the soil even further with our feet.
We decided to import some good, high quality topsoil to work into our clay base and to fill our beds. Since we are also trying to improve our lawn’s health, we got enough to not only fill the garden beds but to top-dress our lawn with 1/3″ of compost and soil to begin our organic gardening project.
The truck arrived on a Monday evening with 7 cubic yards of topsoil. As they dumped it into the driveway, we knew we were in trouble. We knew 7 yards would be a lot, but this was seriously a mountain of dirt. Luckily,our neighbor let us borrow his wheelbarrow, but every trip around the house with a wheelbarrow full of dirt didn’t even seem to dent the pile.
We filled the garden beds quickly – each bed needing only a few wheelbarrows full of dirt. When we were done, however, the mountain of dirt in the driveway looked pretty much untouched. We spent the next 4 hours carting loads of dirt into small piles on the lawn, where Bree would spread the soil. We seriously debated quitting several times, as our shoulders, legs, backs, arms, and even fingers ached from hauling so much dirt. (Bree’s note: I had donated blood only a few hours before, and after flagrantly disregarding the counsel to avoid heavy lifting when I got home, I was feeling terribly faint as we worked in the heat.) Quitting seemed a stupid idea though, since we both knew that we’d be unbelievably sore in the morning and the last thing we would want to do is haul more dirt. So we kept on shoveling long after darkness fell.
By 10:00 pm we had finally scraped the last bit of dirt off the driveway and spread it over the grass. It had been 5 hours of grueling work, and we were totally beat. At least until the pain of this ordeal wears off, it might be a while before we have any bulk deliveries of compost delivered to our house again…
The following week, we brought in a new trees (a sweetgum, village green zelkova, and a golden willow) to try to round out our very square yard. I have spent a lot of time babying our new trees of which we are very attached. Tonight was particularly windy, and out of concern for our new friends went outside to make some makeshift supports, as we could already see breaks where the rootball had separated from the rest of the mound.
Although we crave more time out in nature, we’ve found that digging in the dirt has been somewhat therapeutic as we try to sort out our lives.