My childhood experience: learning about life through the soil

I am not a farmer or a scientist.  I'm just an ordinary person who happened to start learning things through the soil. For this, I have to thank the empty and uncovered plot of land beside our house that served as my playground during my childhood. 

During my years in pre-school (early nineties), I was fond of catching beetles and earthworms by digging into the soil with my bare hands. I enjoyed tracing the extremely organised ants (red and black) that carried their food back into little holes deep in the soil. I also liked to plant flowers (not the stem and roots), thinking they would grow fast- only to find out that the flower withered thirty minutes later. Lastly, I disliked grass because I always got "grass cuts" when I touched it and would react angrily, pulling it from the ground and hoping that it would never grow back.

During monsoon season, that vacant lot was submerged with water-just a few inches deep and I would observe different living things, from snails and their pink eggs to tadpoles. There were also some leeches, I remember touching them and feeling no pain. I loved the tadpoles because they were active and playful and I associated their vitality with mine.

Then, came first grade. I was doing very well in my science class and busy learning about the life cycle of a frog and watching it unfold in front of my eyes. I knew the differences between a June bug and Gold bug. Later, sometime in 3rd grade, I recall arguing with my teacher about planting flowers (my theory was that the flower would just wither), but there were different approaches like grafting and budding which I obviously wasn't aware of! Lastly, I won a pencil for winning an argument with my classmate that black ants don't bite (it may not be true today)!

Those were the years of my trial and error and I think that is still the basis of modern science. My playground was the vacant lot that witnessed my boredom. I had no choice but to learn about life in all of its forms, to appreciate the earth and keep asking questions. Those were the days when there wasn't any Internet or smartphones, tablets and laptops to back you up - only curiosity! And this curiosity is as real as the virtual world you are confronted with when you touch your smartphone.

People are beginning to appreciate the soil because of its social, political and economic contributions to humans but I appreciated it from an early age, not because I was top of my science class or because I won a pencil, but because I always valued its diversity.

Submitted by Dan Bagsic (Philippines)


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