“Show me your garden, and I shall tell you what you are.” –Alfred Austin
I’ve been haunted by this quote for years, judging myself by the contents of my own garden. Every year I start out with good intentions: This year, the garden will be as neat and orderly as those of my Amish neighbors. This year, I’ll monitor the needs of each plant and apply fertilizers in a timely manner. This year, I’ll harvest and put up a great bounty that will feed my family through winter. This year…This year…
And “This year” never comes. I might start out planting and weeding with commendable diligence, but by mid-July, the motivation is gone, and the plants in my garden face a Darwinian struggle for survival. My general reaction to my overgrown mess has been to berate myself while staring plaintively at the immaculate neighbors’ gardens.
This year, my garden is in even a worse state than usual thanks to the deluge of novelty that’s been swallowing me—on top of my new avocation as a beekeeper and my new dog, I have a new job, new car, new camera, new tablets and texting plan, and new computer. The changes in all cases were necessary, but I don’t handle novelty especially well, and the garden has suffered as a result.
Fortunately, I also have a new attitude: I will accept my messy garden. I will remember that a rampant foxtail invasion is one of the world’s smallest problems, and I will bear in mind that the only person particularly upset by the state of my garden is me.
And I will enjoy the surprises that struggle their way out of the chaos—the blooming mustard plants that transformed the garden into a meadow for a week or two, the sunflowers (mostly self-planted) that bob cheerfully in the wind, the zinnias that fought their way up to flower above the weeds.
I will accept my garden as it is.
On second thought, maybe “This year” has come after all.