Before you become a parent, you never imagine that someday you might actually pick someone else's nose. There's no room for ewww in efficiency.
And so it has become for me in the garden. My hands surprise me with what they'll do. Occasionally, they're delightfully surprised by what they hold.
To that end, here are 10 things I never thought I'd do with my bare hands:
1. Pick up a slug. I could walk around with a salt shaker, but I never know when I'm going to run into a slug and I'm short about three hands as it is. Far easier to pick up the slimy thing and drop it in the "Slug Jar" on the potting table. (I keep a pot on top of it. Thank me later for not providing a photo.)
2. Squish a grasshopper. Those striped black grasshoppers are young Eastern lubbers, which grow up to be giant, horrifically ugly eating machines whose only natural predator is a big rock. I've seen so many this spring, I've quit running for smashing devices. (For the record, I don't think I will ever kill an adult with my bare hands. EWW!)
3. Dig up a beet. This could also work in a list of "10 things I never thought I'd put in my mouth." Homegrown beets are yummy, greens and all.
4. Fish a frog out of a pond. C'mon. If you're a frog in Florida, shouldn't you know how to swim?
5. Hold a lizard egg. I usually come across these little pearls when I'm digging. I relocate them to the potted plants in hopes of seeing one hatch someday.
6. Identify a plant. When I don't recognize a newcomer by sight - weed or volunteer? - the feel of its leaves sometimes gives it away.
7. Scoop cow manure. Not the wet stuff, eww! But compost? Sometimes. It's probably not a healthy practice, so I don't snack while I scoop.
8. Grab gooey gobs of green algae. My little pond's waterfall manufactures cascades of string algae. Yanking it out lost the yuck factor long ago. It's actually a bit cathartic.
9. Defuse torpedoes. Shovels and gloves are too clumsy for the battle against torpedo grass. You've got to dig up those missiles with your bare fingers, soldier.
10. Rescue a ladybug. Nothing eww about ladybugs; the surprise is how much I've come to value them. When they land on my arm, I carefully scoop them off and deliver them to an aphid buffet.
Feel free to add to the list. Gross-out factor scores high. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment at http://tinyurl.com/dirtblog.