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March 6, 2021

Clyde: Get out, get digging

By Clyde

Be careful what you dig up.

Dirt from the Anglo-Saxon “dritan” literally means excrement. When’s the last time you stepped in any or covered any up? There was nothing like playing in the dirt, making hoppy-toad houses and mud pies. It was economically feasible (cheap) and environmentally friendly (safe). No batteries required. For extra excitement, just add water.

“And God called the dry land earth,” states Genesis 1:10. Can you dig it?

The landed gentry surely had that in mind when they purchased land grants from Lord Granville. After 1753, all grants and sales were made in his name; “The indefinite and unexplored regions of the west as far as the south seats.” That’s why we call it Grant (no S) Creek. The nobility never saw the land or felt the true grit between their toes.

Long before Tommy Hudson surveyed every grimy inch and land grabbers were suing for driveways, fences and rights-of-way, the Scotch-Irish planted cotton in western Rowan. German settlers grew potatoes and wheat in eastern tracts. Who ended up with the most slaves? Not the Germans, who “letting public affairs alone and attending home interests, well-tilled farms and adorned their premises with capacious barns and threshing floors.”

It was their “promised land o’ Goshen,” like Genesis 45:10 says. You can still send soil samples to test your land-poor, flood plain, granite-infested inheritance before you get down and dirty in your very own backyard garden spot.

Residents of Boyden’s Quarters actually ate the red mud laying around the house. Meanwhile, back at the courthouse, long after dividing up old Rowan into 30 counties, they mail out tax bills to 96,712 souls who own all the deeds for our 142,088-population (and growing at 100 per day) of diggers in our Land of Oz.

Land sakes! Whose land is it anyhow? Do kids still play cowboys and Indians? It’s time to circle the wagons or go west, young man if you want free land. Look on the horizon. Stake your own claim. Land ho!

Or as William Clark wrote in his 1806 journal, “Ocean in view” after his trip 4,142 miles from the Missouri River. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. You can “shove” a little filth, mud or trash with a shovel or use it to play “shovel board.” Who knows what the real bookworm can dig up just by reading the dictionary.

Coming to America must have been a wondrous thing. What have we made of it? It could be a little more attractive lately.

So, if you are not too busy getting the dirt or airing out your own dirty laundry, you might try to change the landscape around you — not just bark mulch and pine straw — by getting out and turning the dirt, rotating your crops, landing a fish, having groundbreakings for new work, protecting your land, painting “al fresco” or enjoy walking the greenway. Thank you Mr. Stanback.

Preserve your landmarks. Mark your boundaries.

This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you and me. Keep shoveling.

Clyde lives in Salisbury

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