Friday, January 14, 2011

Sitting in the Garden

When I think about what I want from my garden it almost always leads to daydreaming about a perfect afternoon spent in a hammock or Adirondack chair, reading a book without having the sun in my eyes, feeling quiet and alone, maybe having a sweating gin-and-tonic nearby.

Everything I want to do in the yard is supposed to be in support of this vision. I plant trees for shade, vines to obscure sightlines or to soften walls, and ornamental grasses so that it will whistle when the wind blows through and drown out the sounds outside my little Eden.

But it never comes to that. There is never a finished project for me to recline in and enjoy.

I am frequently reminded of a quote that I have enjoyed thinking about but seldom acted upon. Blaise Pascal wrote:

"Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so."

Although it may be difficult to apply this thinking to some areas of our lives such as finances, applying it to gardening seems rather easy. We even have a well-worn cliché that sums it up pretty nicely: stop and smell the roses.

Against all odds, I did just that today. I was home for my lunch hour and the sun was shining for the first time in days so I wandered outside. After poking my head over the fence to get a better look at the carnage my neighbor created the other day, and tucking in a few unruly threads of jasmine, I wandered over to the part of the garden that will eventually be where that perfect afternoon takes place and I sat down. I sat down and didn’t do anything but look around and enjoy the sun in my eyes. The garden is a mess. There are leaves everywhere. There was pungent evidence that my dog had been there (and evidently ate something he shouldn’t have). There were dozens of things I could have done to improve the garden. But I resisted all urges so that I could just enjoy being there in the present. Thanks for the advice, Blaise.

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