Steady On (into Spring)

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged. I’m a bit embarrassed actually, at just how long it’s been. It’s not that I haven’t written anything, there are a few rough drafts floating around between the last one and this one… I just can’t seem to focus long enough to get them reread, edited, and on-line.

There’s just so much tumbling about in my brain right now. Some days I’m lucky if I know what day of the week it is – or even month?! As it is, our garden is a disaster, the bathroom and kitchen need cleaned. There’s a sun-choke harvest I need to do something about and the attic needs tended to (we can only comfortably get up there a few days out of the year – and it needs a good going – through.), Yet here I sit…typing instead.

In my defense, I seem to have contracted tennis elbow – in the left arm. Which is kind of ironic to me, since I’m right handed and don’t play any racquet sports. Now, I know you don’t actually need to play tennis to get tennis elbow, but I can’t seem to remember lifting or doing anything repetitive enough with my left/non-dominant arm to cause it.

So instead of cleaning up our garden from winter, and believe me it needs it, scrubbing some tubers to prepare them for freezing, sorting old junk in the attic, or even washing the kitchen floor or bathtub, here I sit. My list of things I need to do seeming to grow longer with each word I write.

The list is long, but let’s just address the garden issues. #charliebrowntheairedale has not been kind to it, and neither has Old Man Winter.

We were unable to get many of the leaves raked in the fall, a tree fell, and there’s nothing but mud where there should be grass, due to Charlie’s overactive fetching sessions. (Which is also why the kitchen floor needs a good scrubbing.) Some of the raised beds are deteriorating and need dismantled. The asparagus patch has died off, overtaken by the shade and weeds, making it’s relocation necessary. The compost bin has collapsed (uhm… it was made of wood and rotted like good compost should.) The front bank could use some reseeding, while the back bank is eroding (again, thanks to an overzealous Airedale). We’ve got a pile of debris we need to dispose of, and finally the goal of planting a few cool weather crops like lettuce, peas, and radishes seams like an unattainable dream.

I have been trying to take advantage of the longer days, weather permitting. I was able to get some garlic in. So that’s a big plus. I also purchased, and attempted to plant, new asparagus crowns. Charlie promptly investigated and dug them back up. I replanted and covered them with wire shelving barriers, so hopefully they’ll still grow. Sigh.

The compost bin has been dismantled, and I’m sifting through the black gold and slowly filling containers around the rest of the garden, turning the unfinished compost into another bin, and leveling the dirt around the old bin, trying to decide what to make of it. Sitting area? Fire pit? Car park? Shed? All of the above? It’s amazing what I’ve seen people cram into little city plots.

The fallen tree has been chopped up and is being disposed of bit by bit. The Goat puts some out each week for garbage collection and I used the larger branches and trunk bits to fortify the back bank. Along with found rocks, extra plants, broken pottery, and random flotsam and jetsam – including but not limited to a turkey fryer part, hubcaps, bed rails, tricycles, and ski poles – they now make up one of the most creatively armored banks in town. Now let’s just hope it really does help with erosion. Pictures may be forthcoming, as the season progresses.

Last night, as I was cleaning up the mess I made while cleaning up the mess that is our garden, I thought to myself “Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep tending to this mess? How bad would it really be if I didn’t keep it up? If we just let it go, and just had grass and a plain “yard”, would that really be that bad? No one notices, after all, it’s just me, The Goat, and the crazy dog.”

And then I thought, “Another few days, and we’ll be able to eat outside!” Even though I know my allergies will derail my best efforts again this year, the bugs will drive us inside at some point, and the garden will only offer lack-luster crops ’cause I will be unable to tend to the veggies as they need, I came to a conclusion.

My allergies and health often keep me from enjoying “The Great Outdoors”. Seriously, I’m allergic to most everything in or around the woods, prairies, grasslands, farms and swamps. I hate camping, I don’t enjoy hiking, or any of the other outdoor activities that The Goat and so many of my friends enjoy – again because I’m allergic to most of it.

But if I can work in our little garden, this little 1/12th of an acre, while completely covered – bandanna over my mouth and nose, hair tucked up under my hat – then I’m not completely giving up. Sure it might not be the “Great Outdoors”, but the view from my favorite Adirondack chair on the back porch in the morning, it’s still pretty damn good. That’s why I do it.

That might not be the most profound realization I’ve ever had. But it’s a big one right now. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of stuff tumbling and percolating in my brain right now. Things at work are busy, summer scheudles are filling up fast, The Goat is struggling with work related changes, and things happening in society are weighing heavy on my heart.

Trudging around our little garden, moving dirt, trying to tend to something in the hopes of seeing tangible results – and results that I know I will enjoy in the coming weeks is a big accomplishment for me. It may not seem like something that will change the world. But it will keep a small part of my world steady. And that little bit of certainty will help right and steady other parts of my life. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Maintaining my own little piece of paradise isn’t selfish, it’s self-care. Sure that’s a trendy word right now, but don’t let that discredit it’s importance. There’s just so much uncertainty right now. I feel as if it’s shaking many of us to the core. We’re loosing our footing, in one big massive swoosh of a downward spiral with a number of us clinging to the edges, trying to hold on and figure out a way to level the ground beneath all of us.

Maybe you can’t understand how gardening can have a steadying effect on me. That’s ok. We each have something that helps center us, makes our world steady. Find yours. Cultivate it. Use it to hold on and level your footing. Maybe, just maybe, once steady, you can help those nearest you.

Me? I’m going to plan on a productively unproductive gardening season – and to wash the floor before my next blog.

Steady on My Friends.