Soils of Life

As many of you know, we broke ground for the new addition to our historic home. It involved renting a track hoe to dig the deep vault for the cellar stair well and then a more shallow trench for the footers on the perimeter of the planned addition. The track hoe got most of the dirt out.  The track hoe was the easy part. Well, as long as the shovel didn’t hit the historic old brick house!

Then we had to crawl into the trenches and the cellar vault to ‘square the corners’ and ‘straighten the sides’. My back complains when I pick up a shovel, so I sat in the dirt with my little spade and threw spade fulls of loose dirt up and over the trench edge. There was a mixture of soils, and rocks, to get out of the trench. The rocks were occasionally large. We unearthed many beautiful foundation stones. Some of the dirt just fell into my little spade and was easily thrown out of the trench. Then there was the clay. Stubborn, hard to move, clay. I had to practicallyscrape it; layer by layer to get it to budge. It was a slow, strenuous process.

As I dug through the variety of soils, I kept thinking about life. Life has many issues: health, wealth, relationships, jobs, duties, responsibilities… the list goes on. I thought of life issues like the different soils in this trench.

Rocks-obsticles that drop into your life. You can leave them and make a lovely rock garden around them. You can perhaps stack them and create a water feature. You can handle them and remove them from your path.

Dirt-day to-day issues that arise. Irritations that must be dealt with. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Heart ache.

Clay-day to-day issues that arise. Irritations that must be dealt with. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Heart ache. But with the clay, the issues were not processes. They got stuck in the mire. They compacted over time. They stubbornly would not forgive nor forget. They hardened over time and then were even more difficult to deal with.

We all have rocks and dirt that come into our lives. Packing them down and hoarding them in our hearts places us in danger of living in the clay.

“We need the compassion and the courage to change the conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions are things like ignorance, bitterness, negligence, clinging, and holding on.” Sharon Salzberg

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16 Tons

“You load 16 tons and whaddaya get?? another day older and deeper in dept.” Tennessee Ernie Ford sings it well, and it’s a story that is eternal.

We are restoring a home that was believed to have been built by one of the founders of our city. That would make it about 200 years old. We discovered clues that this house might have been a station for the Underground Railroad. We have pushed up the floors, pulled in the walls and given her a new hat. So far, we are into the 10th year of our project.

We restored the attic first, and have worked down the 3 floors. Tons of plaster moved, tons of foundation rock restored, and we ‘owe my soul to the company store’!

 

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History

“If you don’t know history, … you are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree” Michael Crichton

I live with my husband in a home built in the 1840’s. We are in the process of rehabbing it. As we work on the physical house, I have delved into the history that I can find on the family who lived here. The original family, the Frosts, lived there for nearly 100 years. George and Ange had three children, the two daughters never married and the son married but only had a daughter, who never married, so the propagation of that nuclear family stopped.

The house is believed to have been a station on the Underground Railroad, and there is a ‘mystery’ half door opening in the wall of the attic. Was it a part of the RR? the stations were well kept secrets, we may never know. But I can certainly feel the souls that have passed through this home.

My thoughts as I rummage through anything that I can find…is what will occur when we all stop writing on paper? We text, we call, we FaceTime and we store photos on our computer. It occurred to me how vital it is to record our history, our thoughts, or anything that we would like to have remembered or passed down to later family, or interested people (like myself who now lives in the Frost home) for them to see. It is one reason I blog. I can print the pages and thereby have some written record of my thoughts/ideas/feelings. However, I try to script letters from time to time to maintain the ‘touch’ that a handwritten letter can convey.

Bettina Drew said, “the past reminds us of timeless human truths and allows for the perpetuation of cultural traditions that can be nourishing; it contains examples of mistakes to avoid, preserves the memory of alternative ways of doing things, and is the basis for self-understanding…”

I believe this house has been a place of help to others. Perhaps assisting the runaway fugitive slaves, George Frost was a lawyer who assisted women in obtaining a pension and his son was a pharmacist/physician who provided medical advice and assistance to those in need in this community. I want to connect to those spirits and continue to provide assistance to others…as a nurse, as a person, and as a blogger.