Or I could just sit for awhile…………………
As Winter gives way toward Spring, that urge to clean up, fix up, organize and generally put our lives and gardens in order seems to just be hard wired into our DNA. As the first promise of warmer weather and sunshine glimmers distantly in the air, off we go, rushing almost in unison, often still in our boots and sweaters, to our favorite sources for garden delights and the local Home Improvement Stores.
Here in the subtropics, Spring comes early and is very short lived. If you don’t get that Garden To Do List done early, then the heat, humidity and bugs soon put a damper on your enthusiasm. So even though it’s early January, my Spring Cleaning clock has begun ticking in earnest.
In making the rounds this morning with my brand new shiny 21st century version of the notebook To Do List (my first ‘Smart Phone’). I passed by the spot where the summer dog days stopped all but my most essential garden chores dead in their tracks last season. I could spend the rest of the day just making a list of the work that needs to be done in that one 12’x12′ area. The bougainvilleas are overgrown and desperately need to be pruned, a gate needs to be installed, the door painted, the stepping stones laid, the umbrella stand put up, and on and on. That feeling of being overwhelmed and annoyed at what was not achieved was fast pushing out the satisfaction and pride in what was accomplished last year.
Then, on my inspection rounds, I walked past my Grandmother’s chairs, put in place last year with great anticipation of lounging with a cool glass and admiring the fruit of our labor. And although we did rest there briefly from time to time last Summer from the sanding, grouting and painting , by then it was just too danged hot to sit there long, and there was still too much unfinished to really enjoy the spot the way we’d dreamed of. Then Summer gave way to Fall, and Hunting Season, and the Holidays, and the chairs became a catch all parking spot when coming and going through our new back door.
Seeing those chairs this morning was my first ‘Squirrel’ of the day. (You know, that reference from the kids’ movie about things that divert your attention). That was all it took, a glance at the chairs, and flash of sudden recall, and there I was; sitting in my Grandmother’s chair, lost back in childhood for awhile, remembering all the garden plans we’d dreamed.
I thought of how of many of those plans were eventually made real, and how some never were. Time, money, and/or the season would just run out. Those ‘Squirrels’ of life; errands, chores, work, school, friends, activities, illnesses that each insistently demanded they be chased, would lead us off track, and the big Garden Dreams would be forgotten until the next Spring.
Those musings led me to the conclusion that I wanted share; I realized that there had been as much joy and reward in the planning as there was in the finished result.
I have very wonderful memories of the gardens of both my Grandmothers. In my memory those gardens are huge, wonderfully magical, beautiful places. Berries have never tasted sweeter, tomatoes have never been juicier, never have I been more in love and intoxicated with a flower’s fragrance, than there. Nor, have I since seen any bug, slug, mole, gopher or snake that was more frightening or fascinating. But, as fond as all those memories are, I also realized how much I enjoyed the planning.
I thought of all the mail order plant and seed catalogs spread about, the detailed lists of what would grow where, and when it would fruit or flower. I smiled at the memory of the impromptu trips to go look at something in a neighbor’s yard, that would was only going to take a minute, but would turn out to be the ‘Squirrel‘ of that day, as the stop at the neighbors, led to a stop at the Feed and Grain, to a stop at the Variety Store for canning jars for stuff the neighbor had given us, to a ride by the strawberry and pea fields to see how much longer until U Pic time.
Oh, and those funny sounding botanical names…… it did not occur to me until a very long time after to ever wonder how my father’s mother, who had no formal education, so far as I know, was able to pronounce and spell them all so perfectly. I chuckled inwardly at the memory of her assigning me the chore of carefully writing each one on the stakes made from Popsicle sticks, making me start over if I got the spelling wrong.
So I frittered away some time today. I left the additions and subtractions from my modern To Do List be briefly suspended. I ignored the electronic dinging of my assorted reminders. I forgot about the pruning, the mowing, the digging, and the spraying for a bit. I did find myself missing the dozens of mail order catalogs, notebooks and layout sketches spread about, but that’s ok………… I made big plans.
So, please, come sit with me awhile…Make a Plan…Dream a Dream……