When I was three or four years old there was a popular song called “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover.” Because of that song, I was always looking for them and it was this, I think, that led me to eat dirt for the first time.
Don’t ask me why I ate the dirt. Maybe it was because I was curious or perhaps it was because I had an audience–a little girl who was a year or two older than me that I was trying to impress.
I don’t think it was a lot of dirt–two, maybe three bites, probably. But it wasn’t bad that dirt in Annapolis, Maryland, back in the fifties. I don’t have any other dirt to compare it with, really, or know if the quality there is the same today–but it was okay, back then.
We were living in a Quonset hut–we, being my parents, my little brother and myself.
I have many memories of this place: Mama ironing Daddy’s uniforms and the crisp, starched little dresses that I wore. Daddy, macramaing his Navy belts on the back of a chair–and a pervading sense of sunlight throughout the little house and the yard around it.
It was a cozy doll’s house with a curved ceiling–and Mama kept it that way.
Mama did not agree with me about dirt; she hated dirt. She didn’t want any dirt on herself, her home or her children, let alone inside one of her children. So when Mama caught me in this perfectly natural experiment she told me not to do it again under threat of a spanking.
But the lure was too strong.
And the next time I tasted this clean, gritty substance, that same little rat-fink girl I’d been trying to impress, told on me, and Mama delivered as promised. It was my first experience with betrayal and I think I was bewildered by it, but I also think I must have hated that little rat-fink girl for a while.
Years later, after I’d seen the film: “The Good Earth,” and then read the book, I found out not everyone shared Mama’s opinion about dirt. In the story, they took my casual sampling a bit further and a family used the earth as food during a famine.
Mama could be picky about food, too. One night the cupboard was bare and we were pretty low on funds. Daddy looked to see what we did have and served us up a supper of toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Believe me, the warmth gives them whole new panache. I guess whether you like dirt or warm peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is all a matter of taste, but if you don’t taste them, how are you gonna know?
Over the years, I’ve learned that most everything my mother taught me is true. But I believe in signs… sometimes. And would you believe, about twenty years later, on the other side of the continent, that lady who wrote the book about people eating dirt came to an insignificant junior college in southern California, where a few of us students got to see and hear her speak in person.
And now, many years later, Miss Pearl S. Buck’s visit here to Southwestern College strikes me as small affirmation for that three-year-old girl, that perhaps eating dirt… wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
After returning to college several years ago for further study, VLSloan began writing full time when her work began winning contests. She joined a writing group that was starting up in Chula Vista soon thereafter – the group now known as South Bay Scribes.
A member encouraged Sloan to join a writing site called Wattpad. The site has enabled her to develop a large body of work, including, but not limited to – Short Stories, Serials, varied Poetry Collections and a newly featured mystery Novella called: Arachnia.
Wattpad allows interaction with not only readers, but with other writers and she has been fortunate enough to attain wide readership there. Known as sloanranger on the site, she now focuses her efforts on submissions and locating a Literary Agent. You can find VLSloan and her work by googling: Wattpad.com/sloanranger