Go play in the dirt


These days, I spend most of my time in front of a computer.

I haven’t added up the hours (I don’t want to know), but most of my week is spent writing for school, writing for work, writing for my blog, reading blogs, procrastinating on Facebook or Twitter, and on and on and on.

To top it all off, our WiFi has a consistently inconsistent pattern of coming in and fading out, causing a few tantrums and meltdowns from yours truly. (It’s not pretty, let me tell you.)

This week, I’d had it. I was sick of the eye fatigue, the hunched shoulders and the guilt of ignoring my actual physical surroundings.

So I went outside and dug in the dirt.

urban garden

Our one-bedroom apartment is small. It doesn’t have a dishwasher, the A/C unit groans from exhaustion and the plumbing is old. But for all its quirks, it’s a pretty sweet spot. And one of its best features? It comes with a 2×11-foot garden.

Actually, it originally came with a 2×11-foot mess of tangled weeds and overgrown succulents, but that all came up easily enough when I first tried my hand at urban gardening months ago. That attempt was noble, though it ultimately fell short. Soon, our garden began to wilt, the weeds grew back in and the flowers I’d planted died.

This week, that all changed. I bought a couple of shrubs, some soil and gardening gloves, sprayed on my sunscreen and got to work.

before & after

And you know what? It felt really good. I spent hours digging up all the landscape pebbles we’d spread out and properly weed-proofed the dirt below. I mixed the new soil with the old, dry and dusty soil. And, the most fun of all, I added some greenery.

When we found out our rent was going up at the beginning of the next lease, I momentarily lamented the work we’d put into a place we don’t even own. Why hang things on the wall? Why plant in what’s technically someone else’s garden? But the fact is, like a lot of people in my generation, I may never own a home, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take ownership and pride in wherever I’m living. It’s important to nest, and it’s important to love where you live.

chimes garden

And I do. I love our tiny kitchen where John and I make kickass dinners every night. I love our bedroom with the pretty curtains and my “girly station,” I love our living room with party lights on the wall and funky rugs on the floor. And now, I love our garden.

Now that I have a garden to take care of for real this time, maybe I’ll spend a little less time staring at a screen.

Have you played in the dirt lately?

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  1. It looks great what you’ve done in the garden. So much neater and more appealing. I think it’s nice when people take pride in where they live.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Thanks a lot, George! It makes such a difference coming home to a place that’s welcoming and green.

  2. I enjoyed reading this so much! I, too, wonder the same things: “why invest if it’s only temporary?” But NOW is what we’re experiencing and if it makes our now better, that has lots of merit. And there are ways of feeling more at home and at peace without making permanent changes — but for some reason, my mind has a hard time understanding that. πŸ™‚

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Exactly. I’ve felt that way about so many places I’ve lived, but then I realized adding up all that time equals to a LOT of wasted time waiting for some magical, long-term place to come along. Given where I am in life, that’s likely still far off. Why not enjoy the meantime?

  3. This post resonated sooo hardcore, Cassie. I’m reaching a point of internet/computer burnout–while I typically get inspiration, relaxation and laughs from perusing blogs + social media, I’ve hit a point at which everything I read either leaves me rolling my eyes or closing out the browser window in under ten seconds. I’m feeling the itch to do something more tangible, and playing in the dirt might be exactly what that something is.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      I know the EXACT feeling you describe. The longer you spend on the computer, the harder it is to concentrate, AND the more you start to get annoyed by everything you read or do online. No bueno.

  4. I love this. I wish Indiana weather would allow me to grow plants like that. Lovely!

  5. I have not. I have a gross patch of dirt out the back door that I’m not actually sure I want to do anything with. I would like to grow some herbs or something, though. I’ve been in Reno for almost eight months and I’m still learning to love where I live. I’m getting an actual bed in a few days (versus the air bed I currently sleep on) and I think that will make it feel more permanent.

    P.S. You should share some of your favorite recipes. I desperately need to start eating healthier and getting outside more. I spend way too much time in front of the computer and the TV.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      I have gone back and forth about starting up a regular recipe feature here. It might happen one of these days!

  6. It looks so beautiful Cassie!! πŸ™‚ Ugh I don’t want to play with dirt, never did – I love anything by the water and good food – especially when you can eat outside and enjoy the surroundings. Sometimes not doing anything on the sofa and just opening all the windows and doors – letting the air come in and relaxing with a Mimosa is all I need to unwind and be happy. I definitely am trying to disconnect more since its an addiction and sucks your life dry if you’re not careful and set limitations. Have a great one ! -Iva

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Funny, I never used to like getting dirty either. Only recently have I actually craved it. I’m sure if I had a huge yard to take care of, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. But this, I can handle. πŸ™‚

  7. This looks lovely and this post made me want to dig in the dirt myself. I don’t really have a patch of earth, though my roommate has planted a few things in containers. I am hoping to find a place to hang a little terrarium in my bedroom, just a little bit of dirt and green to bring the outdoors in. Thanks for inspiring me to get on that!

  8. Cassie, you’ve done a bloody tremendous job, the garden looks fab!! We don’t have any such space here (we’re four flours up) and I do miss having a garden (especially after having just got back from my visit home) but I don’t think I’d ever put in the effort to do such a space justice! Plus, I’m a known plant killer….

  9. I haven’t played in the dirt lately (or does sand count?), but it is relaxing. I think gardening is relaxing overall, though, and it’s something that can easily be managed and kept up with — and the result is such a beautiful one!

  10. Love this post! Now I’m longing for the summertime when I can go out and garden. As for taking ownership of our rented places, I couldn’t agree more! At first I was really timid about decorating my apartment in North Carolina but then I realized that in order to make it my “home” I needed to add to it. Now it is all mine and I couldn’t be happier πŸ™‚

  11. I love anything by the water and good food – especially when you can eat outside and enjoy the surroundings. I also spent much time on daily routine in the garden. I think this is the best way to examine the beauty of nature.

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