My little daughter is so happy in the dirt. It is one of her favourite places; sitting in the garden bed shoveling dirt into empty flower pots, pushing her little hands through the dirt.
She doesn’t mind getting dirty, doesn’t mind the ‘elements’. She finds joy in flowers and trees and grass and wind and rocks and sticks and rain and leaves and dirt.
She gravitates more to these things than to toys or even the television. “Shoes on? Shoes on?” is one of the most common requests she makes.
Meanwhile, I sit in a chair, on concrete, a good three metres from the dirt. I think of picnic rugs before I think of sitting on grass. I look for bugs and spiders and reasons the great outdoors is too messy and too difficult.
Western society has become accustomed to the indoors, and yet there can be so much more value outdoors. The air is fresh. I can hear all different bird noises and wind rustling in the trees. I can hear the far-off sounds of cars on the main road, a truck’s reverse beep. The nearby tap-tap-tap of my daughter’s shovel as she tips dirt into the pots. Even the creaks of my house.
I think it says something that I was initially surprised a few years ago to hear that there are health benefits of being around dirt. Yes it strengthens the immune system, but dirt and the outdoors also apparently benefit mood and mental health.
I have played outdoor soccer for a number of years now, and I think there is definitely something to be said both for exercising outdoors and also the proximity to dirt.
Even as much as I sit here hoping there aren’t any creepy crawlies anywhere near us, I am enjoying the fresh air, the smell of the dirt, the calming bird songs. And I know I need to be out here more, in my natural habitat.