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Gary Paul Nabhan, recently interviewed by a clod of dirt

Dirt: So you occasionally write about us?

Gary: Well yes, on occasion. Why?

Dirt: What do you think entitles you to pry into our lives?

Gary: I’m not prying, exactly…I’m sort of crumbling you between my hands.

Dirt: While you are writing, you crumble us between your hands. Gads!

Gary: Only metaphorically so… teasing you apart, then rolling you back into a ball, so to speak.

Dirt: I just hate to be teased.  What gives you the license to write about us?

Gary: Well, I sort of grew up with you. You were among my first friends when I could barely speak. I’d sit beneath an oak tree on a sand dune, and savor a taste of you, because conversing with you was so much more fertile than conversing with the sand around us. And that’s how I learned to speak.

Dirt: How?

Gary: Swallowing your story. Making it my own. The myriad microbes that I ingested with each morsel of you I tasted somehow became the culture I was inoculated into…

Dirt: Excuse me, are you assuming that you belong to our soiled culture?

Gary: Well yes, in a way, I’ve always belonged to you culture of the earth. That’s why I always say “Greetings earthlings!” Whenever I awakened from a nap in your presence.

Dirt: I’m beginning to get all choked up over this. Most humans just walk all over us, never giving us any notice—let alone credit—for all the things we do. And you, you maintain that you have a special affinity for us, with us?

Gary: Well, yes, as a matter of fact. That’s why I volunteered to work at the headquarters of the first Earth Day in 1970. I thought it was all about you. I want to express my gratitude, to somehow pay you back…

Dirt: What do you mean, pay us back? For what?

Gary: For my very existence. For the sense that I am grounded, anchored, rooted in place. For the terroir, the taste of place on my lips. For where I will be with you when I die, where I originally came from: dust to dust.

Dirt: I am grateful to hear this. Imagine that, a human with a sense of humus!

 

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