Life’s Debris

I recently read a novel in which the main character suffers a car accident as a child, and afterward repeatedly cuts her hand on the glass shards emerging from her scalp whenever she runs her fingers through her hair.

Besides freaking me out (which fiction often does), this story reminded me of a somewhat similar experience at an old farm house we rented during our first years in Vermont.

My husband and I created our first flower bed in the soil above the stonewall in the backyard.  We were surprised to discover that whenever we put our hands in the dirt, we uncovered pieces of broken glass or nails or scrap metal (and once even a rusted piece of jewelry.)

Though we would remove every bit of debris we could find, each time it rained, more would be unearthed;  and with each summer season, there would be even more.  The garden never stopped giving.

It occurs to me now that this is a lot like life. Despite years of therapy, a decade of Al-Anon, a lifetime of journaling, yoga, body work and more–junk keeps coming up.

And just like the garden or the child’s skull, there is an element of surprise, of curiosity even:  Oh, look, there’s another piece of glass in my head.  Oh, look, there’s another nail in the garden.  Oh, look, there’s my mother, just when I though I had raked her story from my life.

I imagine that whoever is living in that lovely old farmhouse now is still finding debris in the flower garden among the lavender and lady’s mantle, but perhaps not as much; and I imagine that the girl in the novel eventually rid herself of the embedded glass in her skull.

And I?  I will continue to be surprised by the chunks of my past popping up in my future in the face of how diligently I have worked to composte it.

Kelly Salasin

One thought on “Life’s Debris

  1. Such potent images in this beautiful post. I wish now that I had saved every china shard and scrap that came out of our yard in New Hampshire–they are part of the story of that place. For a while, I was so eager to put our own roots down that I didn’t pay attention to what was coming up through the dirt; now I want that connection to the past. When a bit of blue willow ware shows up in the garden, I wipe it off and carry it inside, to remind me that our own life in this place is fleeting.


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