And so we begin to cultivate.
We wrestle the earth from this overgrown chaos, this slow moving spread of stinging nettle, this formless and fruitless void. We peel back the sod to see if the worms still wriggle like when we were children, digging these digitized hands back into the dust of the earth. We remember a time of play, of creation. The sun smiles warmly on our little plot. Yes, this is where we will remake Eden!
We are all hope and dreams and seed catalogues, and so we are somewhat taken aback by the resistance. The fresh soil, so promising in its appearance, does not yield to our fingers. It is hard and clumpy, almost rocklike in its determinacy to stay just where it has always been. And what is this – shards of glass? slivers of tarred shingles? shreds of plastic bags? They are practically glued into the clay, some twisted potter’s practical joke.
We get out the garden rake, the old rusty one we found in the back of shed next to the oil cans and chicken wire. It claws a pattern into the stubborn ground but barely penetrates. We pull and grunt and manage to break apart a few of the clods.
We frown. Swat a fly. Sense a blister forming.
What we have here is not enough. All our effort and we would still have only clay pebbles. The rain would come and the soil would clump. The sun would shine and the surface would crack. The seeds would sprout but their roots would choke. What we have here is just not good soil.
And so we put the rake away. Put our precious rattling packages back on the shelf. It is not the time to plant. Not yet. We are going to get a whole lot dirtier first. The green life will come, but what we really need just now is more death. A few big wheelbarrows full. The plot is lost without it.
Good loam. When the weeds have been pulled and the trash has been plucked and the rocks have been tossed; when apple cores and ashes have turned to black beauty and what has long fallen becomes fertile ground; when the sharp spines of work-shined tools cut room for the worms; when the only Life-Giving Death has made its way to our rotted core, and when the clay submits to the New Earth – then we will plant.