dirty hands, peaceful heart
dirty hands, peaceful heart

dirty hands, peaceful heart

My hands are small, I know
But they’re not yours, they are my own

~Jewel, “Hands”

Raising a teenage daughter comes with it many interesting gifts and graces, and I am also learning to appreciate (to be read: “tolerate”) the feedback she likes to offer about my wardrobe and such.  Typically, anything I do or wear is “embarrassing,” and I figure if I evoke that emotion in my teen, then I’m doing something right.

Although she is not consumed by makeup, the girl does love her nail polish.  It is as much of an accessory to her as her jewelry.  I, on the other hand, am just happy if I can keep my nails short and clean–“the better to garden with, my dear” I tell her.

After she asked me to consider painting my nails last night, I sat and inspected my fingers.  These are the hands of a

after a day of farming, summer 2011

woman who clearly spends time outside.  There are scrapes on the back of my right hand where I reached in between some blackberry vines to grab weeds and came out a little scathed.  My thumb has a cut on the knuckle from a rock I was rearranging in the lettuce spiral.  My nails are short, my cuticles are dry, and my skin is freckled.  None of which I would trade for anything in the world, given how I’ve come to earn these hands.

These hands can reach into a fresh soil without any worries of chipping nail polish. These hands can build a vertical garden without concern of a broken nail.  These are hands with stories to tell and food to share.  These hands can plant, hammer, rake, hoe, dig, and harvest–these hands make me happy.

So the next time my teen stares at my hands as if they are simply pitiful, I’ll just smile, hoping that one day she’ll trade in her finely lacquered nails for a bit of dirt or at least a very cool pair of gardening gloves!


  1. Wonderful. I’ve learned that my hands can tell me the state of my health, as well. If my cuticles are chewed up, my stress level is high. If my hands are dry, I haven’t been taking good care of myself. Blisters turning into callouses mean that I’ve been getting out of the house and into the dirt again. The rings I wear show the world that I am married. And above all, the work and creating they can do are miracles. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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