Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dirt: A Love Story

Dirt: A Love Story by Barbara Richardson
ForeEdge: 9/1/15
eBook review copy, 200 pages
ISBN-13: 9781611687668

Dirt: A Love Story
by Barbara Richardson is a very highly recommended anthology for dirt lovers everywhere. For those of us who love soil/dirt, let's speak the truth right now. As Jana Richman so eloquently points out: "Gorgeous, sexy people dig in dirt. People who age well. People who collect beauty in the creases of crow’s feet. People with sturdy hands and good minds."
"The poetry of the earth is never dead." John Keats

In Dirt thirty-six artists, scientists, and renowned writers discuss and extol the virtues of soil, dirt, and the importance of it. The anthology contains essays by "writers, travelers, biologists, sculptors, green architects, terrestrial ecologists, geomorphologists, soil scientists, environmental economists, Sufi teachers, medicine women, farmers and the daughters and sons of farmers, and people who generally like to live close to the land." For all of them, well, us, the truth is that dirt makes us unaccountably happy.

This collection is divided into five sections. The first section "Land Centered," consists of essays by "flagrant dirt fanatics." The second section, "Kid Stuff" explores our early contact with dirt. The third is “Dirt Worship,” on claiming our ancestry with the dirt. The fourth is "Dirt Facts," which offers insights into the scientific processes within dirt. The fifth and last section, "Native Soil," talks about the challenge of loving difficult ground.

Those of us who love dirt and growing things understand the sentiments of Deborah Koons Garcia: "Soil is one of the true miracles of this planet." Everything that has ever been on the earth eventually returns to the dirt. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust is a fact. The transformation and processes to return to dirt encompass changes and processes that few people think about.

I know my love of gardening and landscaping seems to be inborn, an innate instinct that can only be met by digging in the dirt. The dirt calls out to me as loudly as it calls out to my children. When they were young, they were mud babies. They needed to play in the mud, getting covered head to toe. No scolding could keep them from this preoccupation with dirt. Perhaps there is an explanation for this. Peter Heller notes that, "I read that dirt has pheromones, or something, that come out of the ground and mix with our endocrine systems and give us a sense of well-being. In this way dirt is like potatoes and tobacco and opium."

This is a wonderfully organized and well thought out compilation of writing about dirt. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Contents include:

Foreword: Scratching the Surface by Pam Houston
Preface: The God of Dirt by Barbara Richardson

My Life in Dirt by Edward Kanze, Naturalist
The Great Beneath by Linda Hogan, Author
Dirt Fantasies by Jana Richman, Author
Praise to the Transformers by Janisse Ray, Author
Glosses on Dirt by Erica Olsen, Author
Soil Versus Dirt: A Reverie on Getting Down to Earth by Kayann Short, CSA Farmer
Digging In by Elias Amidon, Sufi Teacher

Dirt Princess by Julene Bair, Author
The First Worm by John T. Price, Author
The Language of Clay by Roxanne Swentzell, Sculptor
Dirt: Imago Ignota by John Keeble, Author
Mud Pies by Chris Larson, Green Architect
Services at the Church of Dirt by Marilyn Krysl, Poet

Dreaming in Dirt by BK Loren, Author
Tao of Dirt by Liz Stephens, Author
The Life of Soil by Bernd Heinrich, Biologist
Dirt in Love by Barbara Richardson, Author
Dirt House by Peter Heller, Author
Sinking Down into Heaven by Jeanne Rogers, Artist and Author

The Soil’s Breath by Tyler Volk, Biologist
Earthmover by Lisa Knopp, Author
Worm Herder: A Q and A With Dr. Diana H. Wall by Carrie Visintainer, Journalist
Seeing Soils by Deborah Koons Garcia, Filmmaker
The Next Big Thing in Soil Science by Carl Rosen, Soil Scientist
A Badge of Honor by Tom Wessels, Terrestrial Ecologist
Dirty Business by David R. Montgomery, Geomorphologist
Feed Your Soil by Bob Cannard and Fred Cline, Sustainable Farmer and Vintner

Hostile Takeovers: An Ode to Guts and Gardens by Laura Pritchett, Author
Fight the Power by Eban Goodstein, Environmental Economist
Born Again: Loving the Least Worst Land in Mississippi by Donald G. Schueler, Author
Stewards of the Land by Wes Jackson, Agricultural Activist
We Are Soil by Vandana Shiva, Soil and Seed Activist
City Dirt by Karen Washington, Urban Farmer
Soil Versus Oil - Kale Versus Koch by Atina Diffley, Organic Farmer

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of ForeEdge for review purposes.


Barbara R. said...

Thanks so much, Lori, for reviewing "Dirt: A Love Story." I'm delighted it brought you pleasure!

Lori L said...

You're welcome! I always enjoy a well thought out anthology!