Dirt? Beautiful? We have endless commercials for cleansers of every kind – products that kill germs on your hands, your countertops, your toilet bowl, your laundry, your underarms, your teeth. We have formulas that make your floors shiny, your windows sparkling, your car like new. How can dirt be beautiful in the face of all we do to stamp it out?
I live in the country. I am literally surrounded by dirt. My five acre plot is a chunk out of a huge, mile-long and half-mile wide field. Across the street from me is another field the same size. No, I am not exaggerating. My closest neighbors are a half mile one way, and a mile the other way.
That’s a lot of dirt. It blows in the windows when things are dry. Did I mention I live on a dirt road, too?
I ride my bike early in the morning, once around the block. That’s five miles. The dirt has just been turned over. There is a fresh, springy smell of earth that brings to mind fruitfulness, production, the greenness of plants and flowers that follow plowing and planting.
The dirt is a lovely rich chocolate color. There are hawks soaring above it. I can see for two miles. Just seeing the expanse of the fields gives my soul space somehow. I feel like I could run forever with space like that. Jump and perhaps catch one of those hawks. Maybe even accomplish my impossible task list for the day.
It’s similar with dirt in the library. We put in new carpet two years ago. The lighter colored parts get ugly and dirty, especially in winter, with all those slushy boots. Know where? Right in front of the online catalog computers. There's a dirty spot right in front of my desk, too.
If you follow the footprints, you’ll see that they surround the internet machines as well. They go up the stairs, stopping in front of the magazines and newspapers desk. They also beat a path to the Local History room.
They continue to the third floor. They are obvious on the floor under the suitcase arch over the Children’s Room entrance, and into the Sights and Sounds department with all its wealth of music, computer programs and videos.
There’s dirt all over the book covers. There are fingerprints on the newspapers and magazines. The computer keyboards need cleaning all the time.
Why does this make me happy? Because it means that the library is working. We are doing our job. People are using the facility. They are checking out materials. They are using the technology. They are walking the floors and using the space for it’s intended use.
With all the concern about libraries becoming obsolete, I find the evidence, dirty as it is, comforting.
Who said dirt can’t be beautiful?