Thursday, May 27, 2010

Frustration and a good life lesson

The last few days have been unseasonably hot so I decided not to put the veggies in the garden yet because I figured they'd just fry in the heat. I'd thinned and transplanted some lettuce and radish seedlings just before the searing started and they'd been reduced to little shrivelled vegetable crispies.

Besides I had everything in the garden under control, or so I thought. Lucas had tilled the two new plots a couple of weeks ago and I'd finished hoeing and hand pulling all the remaining roots, grasses, weeds and other assorted nasties just before the weekend.

After a lovely visit with my dad here at the farm earlier this week, I was looking forward to a productive day in the garden, especially since we'd had a big boomer of a thunderstorm last night that broke the heat and gave us some much needed rain.

But what looked like this just a few days ago, perfect for starting seeds...

... looked like this today.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. It didn't look like that... but it almost looked like that.

What it actually looked like was this.

It's hard to see in the photo but the whole area was infiltrated with a massive invasion of grasses and weeds with nasty tentacle-like roots that twisted just beneath the surface.

Okay, you still can't see it really well but trust me, it was bad.

I grabbed my trusty hoe and spent several sweat-filled hours manning an all out offensive against this turf invader. The more I hoed, the more choking roots I uncovered.

I feel like I'm back at square one. There's no way the kids and I can seed this big plot this weekend. I can probably get three of the four smaller beds in and possibly the tomato bed (unless it turns out to be "infested" too) but this one? No way. I don't know when it'll get done but the longer I leave it, the worse it'll get.

As I nattered on to myself, all the usual doubts started creeping in: you can't do this on your own; you have no idea what you're doing; once again, you've bitten off more than you can chew; maybe you should just quit now....

And on and on the mind monkeys chattered.

I was hot and tired and frustrated and upset and above all, thirsty. So I threw down my tools, stomped inside for a drink and quickly realized that it was time to meet Jack from the bus.

So Ella and I walked down the driveway, hand in hand, and chatted about the the simple things in life -- how some frogs make chirpy sounds while others make whirring calls, how many more robins and blue jays and mourning doves and goldfinches we've seen this year, how the gazillion dragonflies that zoomed around our heads were doing such a great job eating mosquitoes for us and wow, can you believe just how blue that sky is and yes, I do think that cloud looks like a airplane.

Minutes later, my blond mop-headed boy sauntered off the bus and made his way up the driveway.

He was interested in two things: visiting his new tree house (more on that soon) and playing a quick game of tennis in the driveway with his sister before sitting down to homework.

He didn't care about the weeds or the garden or the drama that I'd created: he was just happy to be home. Repeat after me: just happy to be home. A good life lesson that, out of the mouth of babes.

I settled the kids with a post school snack and I took my camera back out into the garden so I could capture all the good that's going on in there. Of course the chattering monkeys started droning on about "slim pickings" and "you don't really want to show off photos of YOUR garden, do you?" but damn you monkeys -- at least I have a garden to grumble about!

So while some of the plots are looking at little worse for wear and the paths are a mess and I'm feeling totally overwhelmed and more than just a little inept, I've still got a little bit of good growing.

My peas are starting to climb their trellis.

My spinach is still small but it's coming in. At least, I hope that's spinach. I ate some and it tasted like spinach. Really good spinach. If it's not spinach, don't tell me. Unless it's hemlock or something and then maybe you should drop me a wee FYI note...

The radishes are doing better now that the crow is gone (thanks to Tattie)...

... as is my lettuce.

And I put some more seeds of both in a few days ago.

The garlic is coming along...

... as are my onions.

And I just put in some Red Russian kale transplants...

... as well as some Bright Lights Swiss chard that I got from the farmer's market this past weekend.

So here's the deal: If you've read this blog for more than 10 minutes, you'll know that I tend to be a bit of a drama queen at times. I make mountains over molehills. I sweat the small stuff. I take things too seriously. All the time.

But I also share my life with two little people who know how to bring me back down to earth. They know how to keep it real.

They don't care that other gardens are better or more productive or more beautiful than mine.

They're just happy to be home.

The harder I hold on to the end result of how things are supposed to look in the garden -- or in life -- the more stress I feel and the more I notice what isn't working/right/perfect rather than appreciate and be truly grateful for what is beautiful/wondrous/perfect.

So as frustrating as today was, it was a good reminder to simply do what I can, let go of the result, be grateful of what comes and leave the rest up to Mother Nature. Because really, she's the only one in control here anyways.


Erin said...

#1 Who cares if you know what you're doing? LOL, none of us know what we're doing truly, and I think we like it that way, that's why we keep planting things that we know don't do well (just one more try!) and why we constantly want to try something completely new - just to get that wonderful feeling of watching it and figuring it all out!
#2 If you aren't biting off more than you can chew you're not a real gardener in my opinion, real gardeners have no self control, LOL!
#3 Quit now? Let's see you try... it comes back to that self control thing, LOL!

Remember that in spite of your tentacle weeds, you did the most important gardening a mom can do, and that's raising your children, paying attention to them, and seeing everything through their eyes. You are doing a great job with them!

Remember that a loved and productive garden rarely looks tidy once things are in full swing, I have heard it been described as a "delicious mess"! Strive for that, it sounds so much easier!

Need a "Henry in the garden" fix too! My Aussie came in the other day with her beautiful white "bib" covered in mud clods... wish I would have had the camera handy, when I hosed her off the mud splattered back on me and the kids laughed at me, the little heathens!!

Fiona said...

You're so right, Erin. I just get all caught up in the drama of it all... like I'm doing it "wrong," whatever that is. I love that term -- a delicious mess! Maybe that'll be the new subhead for the blog -- "a delicious mess in small town, Ontario." or perhaps, "Stop whining, start gardening!" Hmmm... I'll have to think about that one for a bit, lol!
Thanks for the kids words re the kids -- I appreciate it.
And yes, Henry is due for another turn in the spotlight. In the meantime, have you read this one?

Kelly said...

You said it! I think what have coming in looks GREAT. But I am sorry to hear about all of the accompanying frustration.

It's cliche, but Rome wasn't built in a day. I just had a similar revelation myself after a year of falling more more behind in house and garden projects. When I stepped back and took a new perspective (from the street looking in) I was able to see all that we had accomplished, and less of what is still waiting to be done. You will get there, if not this year, then maybe next.....or the following. Whenever it happens, it will be great!!

(PS- I have a little Ella too. Made me smile to see the name.)

Fiona said...

Kelly -- YOU said it! You're so right. I do tend to focus on what's not done rather than look at all that we have accomplished already. I've got such big dreams for this place and I'm so excited/anxious for it to be productive and beautiful again, that I don't look at what's beautiful and productive already. Thanks for the encouragement and the kind words...

MaineCelt said...

Here I am, another Garden Sister standing (or kneeling with an aching back and dirt-encrusted hands) in Solidarity! I am trying to remind myself that, though I lost more than half my heirloom tomato seedlings to damping off, my strawberries are doing great, and though my cold-frame plants got singed by leaning against the glass on a hot day, all the brassica starts look otherwise splendid... bless children and animals for teaching us joy and contentment when the mind monkeys natter on!

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