As we enter into April and Spring, we are also entering into exam season. This is a dark time for the student. I feel the shackles and chains constantly, a reminder that I still belong to school and am a slave to the exam schedule. I have begun to spend my time at school sneaking lusty glances out windows (and on UT’s Ag Campus the view can be especially gorgeous and inviting) or purposefully forgetting notebooks in my car so I “have to” venture speedy walks between classes. Trying to endure this final month of stressful papers and grade-defining tests can be hard to stomach, but I have discovered the therapy that comes in the field.
Monday’s the interns have three hours of class time that we use to prepare for the summer ahead of us. This Monday we went to the farm to lay more drip-irrigation, transplant broccoli and onions, and get the last fingerling potatoes in the high tunnel. It was a very rainy day (and had been most of the weekend) so I didn’t expect us to go to the farm, but maybe stay in the greenhouse or go over Farmer’s Market logistics… I was mistaken. I was mistaken and wearing sandals. (You will notice that usually farmers opt for boots while working in muddy, slushy fields. Not sandals.) Though my choice of footwear didn’t seem ideal at the time, it was probably one of the best mistakes I’ve made. Ending a 6 hour day of classes covered in mud is the best therapy Mother Earth has to offer.
As we began our work of transplanting broccoli, I accepted the fact it was going to be a messy job and didn’t attempt to avoid the inevitable. Pushing holes into the ground to put our young broccoli in their final home, I could feel the organic, earthy, and living soil beneath my fingers and the deep contentment that ensued came in waves of giggles. Uncontrollable, slap-happy, goofiness that cannot be explained by me except by saying that after touching unresponsive, unfeeling computer keyboards, stainless steel, and particle board desks all day, my heart had unknowingly been craving, longing for something substantial, feeling, and a template that could accept my advances. The soil not only accepted my efforts, but magnified them. I’m not the one who will grow the broccoli (though I do play a part in it too), but the earth will be the one to hold, nourish, and protect the seeds we sow and the plants we plan. The beauty of the moment was in being a part of the cycle, playing my part in something that is beyond me. The life of a student can be isolated, a lone warrior battling deadlines and evaluations. The joy lies in being a part of something so grand, timeless, and beyond understanding.
Then the rain fell. It was the best 3 hours spent I’ve had in a long time.