Helping The Earth To Breathe

The determination to get rid of the asphalt driveway at my house had been festering for a long time. For twenty years, I had been looking at it, pulling weeds out of it, dealing with the upheaval from having a new well and water line installed which ran under the driveway.

As often happens, the situation reached a point of critical mass – criticism from my inner voice, being fed up with how untidy it looked and the water leakage from the water line connection into the basement. But mostly, I was nagged by a sense that the earth couldn’t breathe.

When I moved into this house, I found black plastic under the flowerbeds. I pulled it out immediately because my sense then was that the earth couldn’t breathe. Imagine how much worse that must be under a paved driveway. Pulling up the black plastic revealed no earthworms. Not one. In another area, also with no earthworms, I had started a compost pile with discarded vegetable matter and leaves. Within six months, earthworms appeared; big, fat beautiful earthworms and now the compost pile is a source of earthworms for other people’s gardens.

Seeing what neighbors had done with their driveways was the inspiration I needed.  Three contractors bid on the job, each of whom had really good ideas. The biggest surprise came when the workers started breaking up the old asphalt. Under the asphalt was concrete!  A dumpster was soon full of the wreckage. And I could feel myself breathing more easily.

The debris was cleared, pavers laid at the start of the driveway, and small grey gravel blending nicely with surrounding colors, was put down. The dog considered this her own private “sand”box. She jumped into it, pushed it around, threw it up with her paws, crouched low and pounced.

Was I intuiting a sense of relief from the earth, or was this projection, that I felt so much better about having permeable gravel now? It was as if each of us could breathe easier. That sensation has not changed. Now under inches of snow, the snow will melt, into the earth, not into my basement. Who knows? My driveway may be a meadow one day.



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