Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What's so great about a pile of dirt?

Pile of dirt with its very own puddle, pen and ink ©jb
Everything was neat, neat, neat. The houses in a straight, clean row. The pocket sized gardens manicured as if to say, 'It looks like this all the time, with no effort at all.' Walking along the bitumen coated footpaths, I caught glimpses of the lives inside. In one front room, a piano with a slick modern pendant light hanging above. On the window sill of another house was a wonky clay pencil holder in the vague shape of a tree. I thought about the child who lived there and what it was like for them living in such tight spaces.

Environment effects me in ways that I don't often recognise at first. When I lived in a small apartment, I spent hours walking or riding my bike just to get some space. On the other hand, I could spend days at home when I lived in a large, warm and cozy house. So this is why I was so curious about how people felt living in these houses where walls and noises were shared.

It seems the more we intrude on each other's personal spaces, the greater the need to ignore each other. Walking cobblestones in the inner city, we avoid gazes and keep our eyes ahead or down. Even if we live in the same street. In the suburbs we may say hello to a fellow dog walker or pram pusher, maybe followed up with a chat with someone we may have seen a few times. It seems more space = more chats.

So about this pile of dirt. When I saw it in the neat inner city park, it looked so reassuringly solid. Like a mini mountain with a cool, still lake at its base. The track marks left by the dump truck were like arrows, drawing our attention. Come on, come and play. Get messy. Make some space for yourself. Breathe.

After I had noticed this pile of dirt, I started seeing them everywhere. On the side of the freeway in various shades and sizes. In the back of a ute in peak hour traffic. In suburban driveways, ready for landscaping. Each pile a funny little reminder of the need to get some space in nature now and again and to get some dirt under your fingernails.

I don't really know if anyone else had noticed the pile of dirt in the way that I had, but I hoped so.

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