It’s wet here in Portland. So wet, my favorite gardening book refers to April as the “Month of the Slug.”
This feels very apt. I’ve been fighting a cold for more than a week and it’s finally winning. I have little energy and appear to be leaving a trail of slime in the form of unfinished tasks around my messy house.
I’m longing for sunshine and dry soil in which to plant. This morning I woke to frost on the lawn and a hacking cough.
But, better weather and better health is just around the bend, I’m certain.
Slugs may be slow, but they are determined. They can certainly dissemate my flower beds if they put their primitive little minds to it.
So, if you need me, I’ll be slowing making my way through the house this weekend, methodically working through my to do list and on the look out for beer traps.
I know. You’re busy. I’m busy. I’m not disputing that. But I propose that the things you’re busy doing are not necessarily those things that fulfill you.
I know the feeling of wanting to collapse at the end of a long day. But I can tell you from experience that attending only to those tasks that scream your name — groceries, cooking, laundry, work — leaves you exhausted and unfulfilled.
So, what if you decide to do a little bit more? Something you WANT to do, but feel like you don’t have time for?
In the spring 2009, I was working on a software implementation project. It was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. The hours were long, the stakes were high. I had a VERY young child at home. There were many days I came home, did as little as I could before falling asleep. But I made damn sure I planted my 800-square-foot vegetable garden. No one would have faulted me for not planting anything that year. But it wasn’t something I was willing to sacrifice.
No matter how tough things got, I could come home, hug my daughter and walk out to the garden and pick a cucumber or a head of lettuce. That meant the world to me.
Fast foward to today. I’m still working full time. I also knit, write freelance articles, blog, and volunteer at Nora’s school. I’m not telling you this as a “look how great I am” kind of thing. Sometimes it feels a bit selfish. But I know it’s necessary. If all I did was work, cook, clean and parent, I know I would slip away from myself. I’d get depressed and start looking for a way out of the grind. I might even do something stupid like blame my husband for my misery.
If you’re feeling this way, I urge you to start doing more*. More of the things you love. Take a yoga class, raise some chickens, go wine tasting, volunteer. You may find you end up with more energy, not less.
*And by all means, do less of the things you don’t want to do, if you can swing it!
Maybe summer will come in June.
Rain will stop. STOP. STOP. STOP.
The soil will dry for planting.
Nora will dig with little tools.
Chickens will not eat the seedlings.
Pathways and beds will be mulched.
Cucumbers will be turned into pickles.
Extra tomatoes will not be wasted.
Green beans frozen for the dog.
Snap peas eaten off the vine.
Potato harvest will be a blast.
For Nora loves to uncover spuds.
Crying out, “Potato! A big one!”
Monday was the only day the forecast didn’t guarantee rain, so we took Nora to the zoo. We saw:
- a male black bear named “Tough” get the bejeezus scared out of him by an intimating, glossy black female (all she did was approach him quickly);
- a really big frog;
- a cougar who took a particular interest in Nora and kept looking from her to me, as if asking me for permission to let her in to play (or be eaten);
- a baby elephant messing with a huge log in the swimming hole (I kept thinking of my mother-in-law who has a weakness for baby elephants — she would have been a puddle);
- two otters who thought very highly of themselves, displaying back-flip skills against the aquarium glass;
- some primates, who make one question the whole concept of a zoo, so human and forlorn do they appear;
- and a pride of lions casually lounging on some rocks. They looked like they could jump the ravine and pick off a few middle schoolers any time they felt like it.
Farmer wanna-be that I am, my favorite exhibit was the family farm, with miniature cows, goats, chickens and a raised bed garden. I now want raised beds. This would be advantage in a number of ways, the biggest one being there would be no annual argument about if we should till and when we should till. You build the bed, put great soil in it and leave it the hell alone. The soil doesn’t get trampled by dogs and toddlers and it warms faster in the spring, so early planting can begin without concern about the tiller wrecking early crops come May. And they look cool.
It’s ten years since we moved to Portland, the webs between our toes have fully formed — so we forged ahead on constructing the fence around our garden, it is nearly complete. Putting in the garden beds will have to wait for a few weeks of dry weather. I’m trying to roll with it, but sometimes I get a bit uptight about gardening. I strive for Martha Stewart like tidyness in the garden which is not realistic without a staff of dozens and oodles of cash. And she doesn’t have a toddler to contend with. Nora’s garden enthusiasm is strong, but she’s a soil tromper and will tear open a seed packet and fling seeds every which way. My only hope of keeping her as my garden companion is to chill out.
In the meantime, I can catch-up on laundry, because if Martha Stewart saw my basement right now, she’d be appalled. Do I care what she thinks? Not really. But Nora’s almost out of clean underwear.