Tag Archives: impatience

Fits and starts

One flat of mom’s seed starts lasted about an hour before being mistaken for a buffet by the big dog. I’d moved all the plants from the car to a shady spot on the deck, watered them, and left them to rest after the trauma of interstate travel. I returned to find one box missing most of its peat pots, soil, and sprouts. Both dogs sensed my, um, pique, and assumed guilty looks. Both snouts were strangely clean, so it wasn’t until today, when the big dog heaved up three separate wide lakes of silty black vomit that I had my culprit.

I would say her discomfort was only fair, but I was the one who had to clean it up, so she still owes me.

I still have the many flower transplants–decorative plants I didn’t drive up intending to get, but, as they say, woman cannot live by chard alone–and some young tomatoes, strawberries, and a few herbs that may survive the dog-blitz. For the rest, well, I’m grateful mom sent me home with seed packets, too. I potted up the few specimens that were left with a protective soil clump around their fragile roots, and gave the bare-rooted and broken-stemmed their last rites before tossing them on the compost pile.

The circle of life and a (wannabe) gardener’s impatience are constantly jockeying for some middle ground.

Today, I put most of the flowers in the ground and weeded the sunny dirt patch that will soon be a strawberry lasagna bed. The heavy clay soil around my house made me seriously envy the rich, crumbly, black stuff under my mom’s yard, but I’ve seen worse. I live here; this is my home, and so I have the natural instinct to improve it. However, I’m only a renter, so I’m not breaking my back–or my wallet–to make it happen. With a couple of lasagna beds, I can have my fresh fruits and veggies and leave the land a little better than I found it, all with a relatively miniscule input of time, effort, and funds. I call that a win-win.

I’m trying to refrain from patting myself on the back oh, what the heck… I’m patting myself on the back for finally getting a little garden of my very own, and going about it in a manageable fashion. If you know me, you might have guessed that the last bit is probably the bigger accomplishment. I didn’t try to get everything planted, lush, and magazine-ready in one weekend, and that’s important. Bite off what you can chew, and don’t turn something fun into another chore. Don’t most of us have enough of those already?

The rest of the plants will keep until tomorrow after work, or my next day off… or they won’t. I’m learning to roll with the punches, bit by bit.


I think I’d want a drink after coming through a dog mauling, but alcohol is not on the list of recommended soil amendments for nascent vegetable gardens, so I guess the plants are outta luck. The vomit cleaner, now…

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All in good time

Yesterday, as I climbed a long ridge, the hot sun poured down through still-leafless branches. Sweat dripped off my face, ran down my belly, made my arms glisten. The trillium aren’t even in bloom yet, and it was in the low 80s. I came off the trail pining for salad: this one in particular, but anything lettucy and crunchy and tasting of spring would have been fine. I thought with a touch of dismay about the groceries I’d just bought to cover the week’s cooking, and the decidedly wintery tone to the menu. Who wants to eat chard and white bean stew or roasted chicken when the sun shines hotly and the air smells like it did yesterday, full of warm dirt and wet, new green?

Well, my meal-planning self remembers what the rest of my brain is apt to forget in these moments of sunny rapture: spring is a fickle beast. Last night, a storm moved through, stomping on the roof, soaking the sills of the still-open windows, and pruning forty degrees from the thermometer’s reading. When I went out at lunchtime today, I put on my warmest coat and a toboggan. April, that clever month, keeps my tank tops and my heavy wool in equal rotation through the laundry basket. I find it less amusing than she does.

As I write this, snow flurries whip past my window, borne on a unrelenting, cold wind. The pea plants on my desk look a little smug, being on this side of the glass. I’m glad that I’ve managed to squash every sunny-day urge to start our little patio garden–delicate seedlings aren’t made to weather April’s whims.

I know people who think the appearance of seed catalogs in the mailbox in dark January is one of life’s cruelties. But April seems worse: it’s so close, that sandal-wearing, fingers-in-the-ground weather, but the frost warnings aren’t quite done, and your warm coat is still at the front of the hall closet.

April’s caprices are an apt metaphor for where we now stand: we’re chomping at the bit to get moving, to find/build/restore/remodel a home, to put into practice what we’ve only been reading about. To whittle down our life to a smaller, richer timetable of seasonal tasks. But the time isn’t right, yet. Where we are isn’t bad–just as, even windy and cold, today is beautiful–and I can actually forget about my own impatience from time to time. April is just one month out of twelve, and I’ll be moaning about the heat before you know it. Today–still on the shiftwork, fulltime paycheck hook, still renting someone else’s house–will one day be the April we look back on, with its pleasures and its frustrations side by side, day after day.

It’s hard, but I can wait.

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