I’m a country girl, originally from Vermont. I love the country, but I want it my way–no flies or mosquitoes buzzing around my head. Farm animals, but no manure. And no weeds in the garden.

Although we live in the city, I consider our tiny patch of yard my little piece of the country. This weekend rain was predicted, but the weather held out long enough to get in some spring clean-up and gardening. A huge branch, about 10 foot long, had blown down from a tree and needed to be cut up and bundled into 4-foot sections before the city would haul it away. Luckily, my able-bodied son was home from college to help tackle the job.

Unfortunately our lumberjacking tool supply was limited, so Andy was offered some rusty garden snips more suitable for a rose bush, and a flimsy bow saw. In the end he resorted to making preliminary cuts and then stomping on the limbs and pulling with brute force. I think that was more fun for him anyway.

Kelly appreciated having us all outside together. She loves sniffing to see what lives under the garage (I’m afraid to find out!) and digging holes where she’s not supposed to.

My husband Mike did the heavy work while I concentrated on planting geraniums in a pot and preparing flower beds along the side of the house. One problem we have with our city garden is the neighbor cats using our flower beds as litter boxes. It’s always quite a disgusting project to clean that up every spring. Of course I wore my stylish purple garden gloves.

For the actual planting, I removed my gloves. I pushed my hands into the soil and felt the cool earth on my skin. That was it–the moment that always elevates gardening into a deeper experience for me. Me…kneeling on the ground…hands in the dirt…connected to the earth. It doesn’t get any more basic. No, I don’t like the mess. I’m grossed out by the fat worms that squirm past. My knees hurt. But for a moment, I’m a part of something bigger. Seeds, roots, sprouts, flowers. Miracles. And I don’t want to take my hands out of the dirt.

What I Learned From My Dog: Go ahead, dig in the dirt. You might find a few bugs along the way. You might even get scolded for getting your paws messy. But, while you’re doing it, there are few things more satisfying.