Out to the garden to thin the beets.
The bullet points of Mississippi John Hurt’s life read like an exercise in patience. The man recorded some really important tracks in his 30s. Four decades later America listened to them. I understand he spent much of the time in between those two events working as a farmer.
I think about this while I’m thinning the beets and carrots. It has been raining for weeks and weeks. Months, actually. Days and weeks and months of rain. I’ve been rushing through it with my head down as if anything peripheral might deter me from getting to the other side of all this weather. As if what awaits on the other side isn’t, inevitably, more rain. I’m impatient in general but I’m exceptionally impatient for sunshine. Still, now that I’m out here among the vegetables I realize how loose the soil, how easy the work. I roll my fingers at the base of the leaves gently and the stems sort themselves out. I tug ever so slowly and the fine roots give. This would be a hard job if it weren’t for rain and Mississippi John Hurt to contemplate while I move along the rows. I consider, what is the better part of a life, the farming or the music? Both require labor and both yield fruit. Both wear us out and both fill us up.
At the end of it I’m covered in soil. It’s seeped through my pants, soaked my gloves and worked its way down into my boots. I’m not any warmer and the sun persists in its elusiveness but I have looked up and about. My heart is slow and my breaths are long. I pull on a clean pair of jeans over my muddy knees and think of Tabby, repentant skinhead and former den mother to the strippers of Bourbon Street Circus. I think of how she would often tell me, “God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt”.