What my love-hate relationship with gardening is teaching me about time (or trying to)
I belong to a community garden, and when I joined four years ago, I thought, what a glorious escape this will be for a city-dweller.
It hasn’t turned out that way.
I expected to love gardening. It’s one of America’s top-ten hobbies! My mom and my stepmom have beautiful gardens. My community-garden neighbors have lush and showy plots. My plot is OK-looking (thank heavens for California poppies that plant themselves and look festive), but I’m finding gardening to be mainly an exercise in things not going the way I wanted.
You could argue that this provides a perfect opportunity to engage with life as it is, rather than as I planned it. Whereupon I would have to smack you. Or at least lecture you sternly.
My biggest complaint is, sigh, the time that gardening takes. Tending to plants is supposed to be a welcome respite, when you happily get into flow with the rhythms of nature. “Just watering” leads to weeding leads to harvesting and before you know it, two relaxing hours have passed. Many gardeners embrace this phenomenon. But I begrudge it. I feel guilty about it. Kind of like web surfing—some good comes from it, but this is not what I was supposed to be doing.
On the plus side: growing my own blueberries and kale and arugula is cool. But but but: birds and bugs and, I fear, poachers, get to the crops before I do. Maddening.
A quick summary of Time Lessons from the Garden…
What I am NOT learning from gardening, though I expected to:
Nature and I are as one. O the celestial harmony!
In actual fact, nature and I are continually at odds over (a) oxalis, (b) that weed that starts out tiny and cute and then turns grassy and scatters seeds everywhere, (c) dandelions (a complex matter, since I can and do eat them), (d) snails (theoretically I could eat those too, oh ick), (e) earwigs, (f) the dreaded cabbage looper.
Things gardening has the potential to teach me, though it has yet to happen:
All things pass away. Beauty is but fleeting; so is ugliness. So much is beyond your control—don’t fight it. Stop trying for perfection, accept what you can do today and let that be enough. To everything its season.
Things I am actually learning from gardening:
Get. Out. Of. The. Damn. House.
Also: Two people working together can make more progress, and have more fun, than one person working alone. Especially when one of them knows what they’re doing. (Thanks, Mom.)