This is a piece I wrote while I was still teaching full time. Now I work part time as a writer and editor. My days are luxurious, full of new learning and pleasant activities interspersed with pleasant inactivity.
With time to enjoy the yard, I put in a garden again this year. Pretty much every year I say I won’t do it again. And then, with every spring, I’m back out there, battling the bugs and the chickweed. My latest post (prior to this re-post) reminded me of my less-than-positive feelings about gardening. It’s called Amid the Chickweed and Dust.
Listen to me read this post:
For two months I’ve been saying it. “I’m not going to grow a garden this year. I’m too busy.”
Probably this is true. The garden needs to be planted and tended just when I’m preparing report cards and going on field trips. It needs to be harvested when I’m planning for the upcoming school year and getting to know my new students. Late spring and early fall are busy in classrooms and busy in gardens.
But then, yesterday, I went shopping and ended up at a greenhouse. It was then, with the temptation to plant so close and with the plants so plentiful, that I struck a compromise with myself.
“Self,” I said. “Instead of planting seeds this year, why don’t you purchase bedding plants? Vegetables and flowers that have been started will be easier. Put those into the warm earth, water, and fertilize them and – poof! – you’ll have an instant garden.”
I bought this argument and bought a wide variety of flowers and vegetables, and planned to fill my garden plot today, Sunday. Today, the weather was sunny and warm, perfect for planting. So I put on my gardening clothes, including hat and insect repellent, and out I went armed with a hoe, a tiny bottle of potent fertilizer, and a metal watering can.
The first half-an-hour was just fine. Then, slowly, a bad, bitter taste began to fill my mouth. I recognized it immediately as sour resentment. The sun was too hot even in the mid-morning and, having not bothered to eat breakfast, I was hungry and thirsty.
I resented the wilting plants who were appreciating the sun’s intensity as much as I was. I resented the little weeds that were popping up here and there in the recently-tilled soil. I resented even the dirt itself and the buzzing bees as they dutifully pollinated the raspberries. I resented the laughter of neighbours and the singing of the birds. In short, I resented putting in a garden when I had told myself that I wouldn’t this year.
I relearned a valuable lesson today: Don’t do anything you know you don’t want to do. I suppose that I’m satisfied now that the garden is in, but it took 4 hours to do the work, the same as it does when I plant my garden from seed. Do I resent this time spent? You bet I do! So very much.
As life speeds up and demands compete with one another for my limited time and energy resources, some things need to fall away. Not forever, in a lot of cases, but for now. I’m pretty good at discerning which things can be set aside and which require my focus. I’m pretty adept at prioritizing.
That’s why, when I knew that I didn’t want to plant a garden, I’m surprised that I did it anyway, only to swallow mouthfuls of resentment along with the dust from the dirt I hoed. Today’s gardening experience served as a reminder that the heart knows what it wants and that my heart wasn’t wanting to plant a garden. Next late spring I vow to listen to my heart and steer clear of greenhouses.