Today I pulled out the overgrown purple basil and dug up the earth underneath, using it to layer the compost further down along the wall. One shovelful, two, the earth was soft after a few summers of planting and a hearty addition of topsoil every spring, but then the spade crunched and almost echoed. I crouched in the dirt with a hand rake, carefully moving away the earth, and saw shards of glass, then small panes. All piled together a few feet under the topsoil, cutting off the roots and creating empty pockets that drained the soil. I started taking them out, one by one. If I shoveled the buried pile, it’d shatter. I pulled out four bags of glass. Some multicolored, some frosted, some reinforced with chicken wire – probably dumped on the unused corner of the abandoned yard before our house was built, maybe even when they were redoing it. Now someone else’s trash was my afternoon activity, and there wasn’t anything that interesting this time. Gutters, though, three of them, the metal starting to rust and fall apart. I dug around them until they came loose, then taped them and the bags of glass to my grocery cart and walked them down to the recycling bins.
It looks like we lost about a foot of soil, but I can only imagine how well things will do next year – especially with the compost, Rami says we should dig down and open our own archeological dig in the back corner under the pine tree where the grass doesn’t grow. If we stay in this house for a while, we want to add a patio there anyway eventually. The temptation is so strong, but I know I’ll end up in a mud pit with a Frenchie swimming in it – and we finally got rid of most of the mud (finally). I’m the only one focusing on gardening right now, though, because of the recent rain after a long hot summer (and still very mild days and nights) Porcini mushrooms have been growing everywhere. My mother in law said there were even some small ones in her backyard. It’s the talk of everyone on the street and on Facebook. A new law came out trying to regulate those who can pick them. There’s currently another full basket of them on our kitchen table, covered in ferns and moss, picked fresh this morning by a friend just outside the city. We’ll never have porcini growing in our little cemented-off piece of dirt, but every season we make our garden a little greener, a little more “us.” When we moved in, it was a sandpit, construction site, and most Italians would’ve just paved it over and have given it mini flower beds. But now it’s our safe place full of green, and glass, apparently, but we’re working on that.