Humble Hands

Gardening has its rewards but it’s dirty work. I do use a trowel, but sometimes I just dig with my bare hands, pulling up the roots of pesky weeds. These strawberries have been sending out shoots and need to be thinned out.

On Monday of this week I made a resolution to use gloves when I’m gardening, but on Thursday I was thinning out and transplanting strawberries without gloves on. It seems like a small thing to talk about, but perhaps I have not been giving my humble hardworking hands the respect they deserve. Since my little golf cart is broken (again), and I didn’t feel like walking up the hill to get my gloves when I remembered my resolution, I just went right on working without them.

I love the smell of the lavender bushes when I’m working in the garden. The exercise helps me keep my girlish figure. The sunshine makes me happy in the early morning. But my hands, my dependable hands, busy and productive and indispensable, they get dry and cracked from gardening. Clayish dirt gets stuck under my nails and stains them a brownish color. I can’t cook with dirty hands, but I garden and cook almost every day.

One reason I don’t like to wear gloves is that my hands sweat as soon as I start working hard. The gloves interfere with my grip on weeds and things. I try to pull the root up with the plant and some of the stems are tender and even delicate. Gloves get wet too, and then muddy and heavy. They have even given me a sense of false security when I grabbed a thorny stem and the thorns poked me right through the gloves. But when I leave the dirt I have to clip my nails, and then scrub them, and still scrape under them and around the edges. That’s when I start asking myself if any of my reasons for not wearing gloves are valid at all. When I apply heavy hand creme several times, that’s when it’s resolution time again.

Every year, after the strawberry season is over, the plants send out shoots that root into the ground. If you divide them and replant the young ones, you’ll never have to go to the store again to replenish your old plants…

So here I am on Thursday evening resolving again not to take my hands for granted anymore. They have served me faithfully my whole life and they deserve my respect and attention. My husband likes to give me jewelry, and I like those pretty stones and filigrees on the rings and bracelets and things. But they don’t look so attractive when I have cracked dirty nails and dry, itchy hands. The day will never come when I have long painted nails… but gloves and shea butter, I’m gonna do that.

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