Moses was an expert at recognizing the small details that affected his life. His life had lots of ups and downs. Cast into the Nile in a basket as a baby to avoid being drowned by Pharaoh’s officials, he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, later exiled for striking dead a murderous Egyptian taskmaster, and eventually sent back to Egypt in response to a Divine calling to bring the Israelites to freedom.
Having conversed with God might have made him feel quite powerful and haughty. Yet, Moses was always humble. He always recalled where he had come from, how he became who he was, and who had helped him get there. It was in recognition of all that Egypt, the physical place itself, had done for Moses that Aaron, his brother, initiated the first three plagues - blood, frogs and lice - rather than Moses himself.
Moses owed his life to the Nile River, which had taken his floating basket to Pharaoh’s daughter, who then raised him. Moses could not bring destruction upon the Egyptians through those same waters, and so Aaron called forth both the plague of blood and the plague of frogs.
Similarly, Moses needed to show gratitude to the dust of the earth for covering the body of the Egyptian taskmaster whom he had struck down for abusing a Jewish slave. Aaron, therefore, also initiated the third plague--lice, by striking the earth.
Moses' unique sense of gratitude to the inanimate teaches us to be sensitive to everyone and everything that impacts our lives. Moses recognized the importance of these turning points in his life and understood how God used nature to help Moses become the leader of the Children of Israel.