As the Dust Settles

I’m a farm girl.

I haven’t lived on a farm for several decades. Physically, I’ve been off the farm much longer than my years on the farm, but there are some sights, sounds, and smells that quickly pull me back.

One is when the dirt is overturned for the first time each spring. It seems odd to refer to the “clean smell” of dirt being freshly turned over, but that’s what it smells like to me. It is as if the earth is breathing a huge sigh of relief, a first breath after many months of steeping.

Then there are the smells of harvest. It is a dustier smell. Whether the crops are being combined and emptied into wagons and semis, or the remnants of the plants are being uprooted and twisted with the topsoil to kill what needs to die in order to prepare for better growth in the future, it’s a different sigh to me. It seems more like a tired satisfaction or grief. It’s an ending and a beginning.

As I walked my favorite trail one foggy morning, I smelled what was happening nearby before I heard or saw it. And I breathed a sigh of tired satisfaction and grief. That’s how endings that produce new beginnings feel. Some sadness and some relief. Some appreciation of what has been and some hope for what is to come. It’s a dirty process. The dust can choke and blind. But just as the fog lifts, the dust settles.

And with it, I sigh.

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