Redneck Sustainability: the Dirt Wash

windmillLet’s talk about the dirt wash. Working on the ranch one day, my wizened father showed me how dirt can actually make you cleaner. It’s true, and oh so sustainable. What cleanser could be more natural than dirt?

Anyway, we had just finished replacing spent rods in a windmill. It had been my first time as the “monkey man” on top of the mill (perched up on the top platform without safety gear in order to latch and unlatch the long wooden rods as they are pulled up and out of the ground). This might not need saying, but everything you pull out of a well is slicked with more gook than skinny dippers at Diaper Springs.

And after sloppin’ this stuff all over for a couple hours and taking in views of red-tailed hawks diving for twittering quail hidden in scrub oak thickets, the monkey man tries to climb down the metal rungs on either side of an angle iron windmill support without slipping off and dying. (Really mom, it’s not that dangerous.)

Anyway, at the bottom I pulled a long drag of water from a cold tin cup and started to wipe my hands on my pants.  It was then that I saw my dad, out of the corner of my eye, bend down to scoop up a hand full of well-trodden, feed-ground dirt. (The silty sort that melds with the mucous lining in your nostrils to create mud boogers). I knew his hands had been greasy, worse than mine, but miraculously as he rubbed the fine silty dirt between his hands the grime and oil began to disappear.

Like the attentive monkey I was, I too bent over and scooped up some dirt. After I shook off the big clump of manure I got on accident, I scooped up some more. Magically the dirt removed every stray bit of muck and grease. After slapping my jeans a couple of times my hands were clean enough to cook with.

Along with that cleanliness came a revelation — one that meant absolutely nothing to me for over 20 years, before finally making a huge impact. I didn’t need a chemical product to get clean. I didn’t need petroleum to defeat petroleum. Dirt can make you clean. And it is in this truth (this statement of Redneck wisdom) that I have found life, and sustainability.[divider]

So when the muck about pace of life gets me down or when the gum of pluralism gets stuck in my hair and spit just won’t cut it, I take a moment to get dirty. ‘Cause simplicity lives in the dirt.


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