Moments before, I’d been crouched against the dry, brittle earth as I pried it loose in a 16″ square, throwing the depth of removed dirt into a large bucket. I’ve been engaged in a methodical war with the ground along the back fence since I started my infinite project. Stone by stone, my bites of the earth growing larger as the squares I use become heavier and thicker.
The virus has involuntarily trained me to tolerate being hot and uncomfortable. At work, it is for safety; at home, it is for the war I declared on the ugliness left by my neighbors. Today, I stayed in my work clothes. Often they get so filthy that I must wash them unaccompanied in the washer when I’m done.
Though it was late in the day, I went outside and began the slow process of gouging rectangular templates in the ground. The work for Monday at my job was relentless. As contradictory as it may sound, working on the infernal yard project has probably saved me from a bit of insanity. My job does not reflect who I am and leaves me bone-weary some days but unsatisfied that I’ve accomplished anything real. I suspect it is a malady shared by many of my contemporaries, and one amplified by the virus intruding upon us.
Though working in the dirt tires me even further, it also rejuvenates me. There are no conflicts, no agendas, and no uncertainties.
After finishing my first large stone, drops began to hit me in the head and neck, dissipating instantaneously. I left my hat in the house, where I’d left it last time to dry and harden back to normal shape. A breeze lifted from the void and billowed my work shirt around me.
I walked over to the remainder of the old chain link and barbed wire fence and leaned against it. I stood there, my face upturned into the advancing rain and wind. As the droplets increased, dozens of dragonflies began their dance of pirouetting into the air to catch gnats, flies, and other insects as the rain brought them from the dense grass of the neighbor’s lawn behind me.
Because my clothes and shoes were already dirty, I stood for several minutes as the rain advanced and peppered me. The temperature dropped, and goosebumps rose along my arms and back. The dragonflies scattered from the other yard and began to circle around me and through the links in the fence.
I couldn’t help but smile.
The Monday accumulated behind me disappeared completely as I lost myself in the simple pleasure of the dragonflies and rain.