Fishing in the Garden

Did you know that if a really, really big giant came along and tried to pick up the Earth in her hand, she couldn’t do it? Nope. The Earth isn’t solid enough; the “hard” ground we walk on is just a thin, fragile layer of rocks and soil — everything else is fluid or mighty close to it. The Earth would just run right through her fingers, like an egg with no shell. Pretty amazing.

That’s a little hard to accept when we’ve had to call in heavy-duty equipment just to till our backyard for this year’s expanded garden. Looked pretty solid to me. Felt like it, too. And in this little corner of our bioregion there seem to be more rocks than soil.

Our rocks were deposited here by glacial movement, so when we found a patch of small-ish rocks, we were pretty sure the mother rock wasn’t far away. Sure enough, we’d soon hear that solid “thunk” as a shovel met up with her. When you dig long enough in this soil, you learn to guage the size of a buried rock just by the sound the shovel makes.

When we’d come across one of those, the work changed from tilling the soil to digging around the edges of a boulder. Little by little she was revealed … a bump here, a shelf there, an odd craggy place over there. When a large rock is being unearthed, there is a stage where it looks like a whale surfacing for a breath of air and a little look-see.

The soil holds other wonders, too. Every handful contains millions of organisms. Most of those are too small for us to see. But the ones we can are numerous and darned interesting. Dark maroon millipedes twist and spin through the loosened soil; earthworms are everywhere, beetles, roly-polies, teensy spiders, grubs and ants of at least three different varieties are swimming around just under our feet.

Even the rocks move constantly, boiling in slow motion toward the surface. The rich layers at the top of Earth’s crust aren’t any more solid than the Atlantic Ocean. Just because we can walk on it, our perspective says “solid”, but for the life that teems in its midst, the soil is beautifully fluid.

Maybe we should call it the Earth Ocean.

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