Monday, December 5, 2022


Why I love dirt and why it makes me happy


By Chuck Woodbury

roadside journalI would like to write about my fondness for dirt. You may think that dirt is a bad thing and wonder why I would write about such a subject. The fact is, dirt is good in many ways. For example, it is necessary to plant a garden. It’s also the number one reason we own vacuum cleaners. If you were a vacuum cleaner salesman, you would like dirt very much.

Prairie Dogs like dirt, too!

I chose to write about dirt because of my dream last night. I dreamed of when I was a little boy, digging tunnels with my pals in a vacant lot near my home in suburban Los Angeles. The tunnels were like fox holes, which we would cover with boards retrieved from nearby tract housing developments. We would then cover the boards with dirt. We would create vast networks of dark passageways, and if we were lucky we could connect a few with a gopher’s tunnel, making for an all-natural intercom system.

Always, we would dig a big meeting room, where by candlelight we would eat potato chips and discuss kid stuff. It was our dark and private world, off-limits to all grownups. I remember one time when a buddy brought in a girlie magazine called “Black Silk Stockings.” We passed it around, wide-eyed.

I recall with great fondness the smell of that earth. I also remember above ground, when my buddies and I would smooth out miniature highways where we would “drive” our toy cars and trucks on the packed dirt. Driving has never been as good since: A kid’s imagination is better than any adult reality.

A few years ago, I was driving my motorhome through farmland on a warm summer day, my windows open. As I passed a farmer plowing a recently irrigated field, the strong smell of the moist dirt blew right into my nose. It was very familiar. I inhaled deeply. All of a sudden I was a kid again, back in that vacant lot, playing with my pals. I felt instantly happy and content.

So that’s why I like dirt. Sure, it can cause a mess, I know that. My philosophy is that you take the good with the bad. And if the bad is worse than the good then you buy a vacuum cleaner and go on with your life.

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4 years ago

Seating Indian style while sliding an empty Watkins Abstract bottle in the dirt as a car. Smooth glider. Best dirt car I ever used. Simple life. Then you grow up.

Tommy Molnar
4 years ago

Wow! Dirt. I remember growing up in the 50’s in Chicago. There was an empty lot done the alley from us. The guys would get together and dig “foxholes” so we could play ‘army’. Dirt clods were grenades and sticks were our M-1’s. We all had some sort of gear from the army surplus store downtown. Sigh . . .

4 years ago

Your article on dirt reminded me of long ago similar
episode in my youth. My friend and I started with a wood refrigerator crate. We made it into a 2 person club house in a field behind my parents house. We thought it would be “cool” to have a secret entrance and dug a trench large enough to crawl through. We placed boards from a nearby home construction site and covered it with adobe dirt with fresh mowed straw on top. and secured it with a make shift electric lock using my electric train transformer. Of course we had our blankets, water jug and Sterno stove for cooking and it was a great escape from all else.

4 years ago

One of the best things about Spring is the first day you can smell the dirt!

Bob Godfrey
4 years ago

Funny you wrote about dirt this issue. I was daydreaming the other day about playing with little toy cars and trucks building roads and parking places for them around tree trunks at a nearby apartment building while growing up in NYC. I’ve admired dirt ever since and absolutely love traveling through farm country and the smell of dirt associated with same. I’m beginning to think I was a farmer in a former life!

4 years ago

Your dirt forts sound just like the ones we built next door behind the bushes in the Thomas’s yard. The only thing we did in addition was to decide to fill them with water and then to try to swim in them. It took 3 hoses to fill the holes up. The extra two hoses came from the ajoining neighbors houses. All of the neighbors had boys that belonged to the “gang”. That said, swimming through hand dug dirt tunnels probably wasn’t very smart. We were 10 and covered in mud still wearing our Levi 501 button up jeans and our J.C.Penny white t shirts. Yes, I can still smell the dirt.

Tom Gutzke
4 years ago

Little things that remind us of our youth. How quickly we forget what it was like to be a kid and the fun we had. Thanks for the happy memories you just stirred up.

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