I once had a friend, who has long passed away, who went through a long phase, prior to her cancer diagnosis, of craving eating soil. She would be dallying about in her garden beds with a small spade and would have to restrain herself from lifting the blade to her lips to take a little nibble...just oh-so little... This went on for about 3 years and when she first told me about it, I laughed out loud and begged her to let me video record the act (which, of course, she refused to allow). Odd thing is, after receiving her Stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis, her doctor mentioned that many folks who suffer with various illnesses begin having unusual cravings, due to deficiencies their bodies are experiencing. My friend, however, believed it was much more than that...that her cravings were soul-related; her body knew there was a substance it needed to compensate for what her undetected cancer was robbing; iron and other minerals. The problem with eating soil is that it is terribly dangerous. I, as a child, crunched on soil a time or two. Mud pies often looked like the Jell-O Pudding my mom let us eat, and they had a multi-sensory texture that I am certain contributed in some part to my pitted and cavity prone teeth.
So, as my friend began her intensive cancer therapy, including rounds of chemo and radiation, which, in themselves, almost killed her (have you SEEN the skin of a woman who has been burned by an accidental chemical burn!?) her cravings intensified and she could not hold back. She began collecting dirt from the area near her compost pile! To make the soil a bit safer, she baked it in her oven on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for 1 hour. Then, she sprinkled some of the sterilized earth atop a bowl of ice cream. She would mark this event onto her calendar, allowing herself 2 servings a week. As the cancer spread throughout her body and became incurable, she threw away that calendar and enjoyed a bowl of loamy chocolate ice cream every-other day...and she passed on, feeling just slightly in control of one thing; her diet.
While I, myself, obsessively dug holes in my gardens between 1997 and 2009, I realized that I was spending up to $500 each month on plants during the growing season, money which I did not have! But, my soul remained hopeful and my anxiety-induced crying decreased! My fingernails became my evidence of control, packed with deep-brown earth. When we moved into a new home in 2001, I brought with me only my most beloved plants from the old home (I had complete control of who I left behind!) and dropped them into the new lot. I calculated how much I might have to spend out-of-pocket on a therapist and realized that the $2000 I was spending on plant life was a bargain!
Now, fast-forward 4 years. I am obviously much healthier in spirit. Is it because my children have moved on? Is it the fact that I am older and, therefore, wiser (I think-not)? Is it due to the fact that I now work with a Life Coach who has educated me on making shifts that work for my heart and soul? I'm not sure, but I believe my soul and my life may have been saved by the holes I dug...and today, if you visit my gardens, you will see the evidence of my necessary labor; room after room of gardens.
Those 31 hydrangeas are my evidence of survival.