Red Dirt

The following was inspired by looking through my writer’s notebook, this is  from my page of Memories Inside Me.

“What happened to the dirt?” we wondered as we drove from Washington, D. C. to Houston, Texas.

The year was 1966, a major change was happening in our life. All my life I had lived in Chicago, but due to a job change our family (5 kids, 2 parents) was making a move away from everything we had known to an unknown world.

First, we moved to Washington, D. C. for a summer while my dad received  training for his new job. His first assignment (after training) was to be in Houston, Texas. What an adventure this was to be for us! The only world we had known was  Chicago and Baldwin, Wisconsin. Chicago was home, Baldwin was vacation, this was where we spent time visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a multitude of cousins.

The most shocking change to us was the ground we walked upon. Dirt is black, moist, rich soil. Dirt is not red, dry, powdery clay. What happened to the dirt? How do you grow plants in this stuff? This ground was so different from anything we’d ever seen. My mother scooped up a baggie of this red dirt and mailed it to my grandmother in Wisconsin. I can imagine my grandmother’s surprise when she opened up the small package of red dirt.

I think of this everytime we drive across New Mexico and Arizona. I marvel at the color of the land around me as I know this is much redder than the ground in Texas.

I suppose black dirt would be a novelty to those who were raised on red dirt.

10 thoughts on “Red Dirt

  1. You tell such good stories so concisely, Elsie. It’s a lovely memory & it is interesting how people see differences. We are now in dry Colorado after years of wet Missouri, & still yearn for the fast growth of a wet climate, but love our weather in Colorado too. Guess it’s what one becomes accustomed to. Did your mother learn to grow things in Houston? It’s wet, but still very different, I know.

  2. the other ruth says:

    I’m glad something sparked this memory! Interesting story, and I find myself wanting to hear how the red dirt mail was received. 🙂

  3. I love looking at landscape differences – it is what captures my attention most when I travel. The first time I saw red dirt was on a college trip to the south, to visit Civil War battlegrounds and I was the red soil of Georgia. The dirt where I live is…. mostly wet.

  4. I love the way you zoomed in on such a small detail, yet it has so much power. I’m like to think of these kinds of tiny details which reveal so much. Thanks for sharing, Ruth

  5. grade4wizard says:

    Fascinating that the memory of moving is about soil. At the same time it makes sense. The natural environment depends on the soil. Different soil – different trees, berries, flowers. It would have been interesting to know what your grandmother thought and felt when she opened the package.

  6. Isn’t it interesting how something that is common place to one can be so different for someone else? Red dirt is a novelty to me as well. I wouldn’t know where to begin with it either. It’s like that when you move too.
    I moved when I was in the 7th grade. The dirt wasn’t a different color, in fact, it was only about 30 miles away, but it might as well have been many states away. I never saw my friends again. I went to a new school and new friends. What a change! Thanks for sharing! It brought back memroies for me. Happy slicing! :o)

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