So during these rainy, cold damp days, I'm perusing magazines and online blogs and I keep running into.....DRUM ROLL......the spring chore lists. Not sure how chore lists make you feel. They make me feel overwhelmed and tired (even before I've started) and a bit joyless. Kind of like the guy in the painting (Il Giardiniere Stanco or "The Tired Gardener'). Sure they're helpful and sometimes a great reminder of things you might have forgotten to do. Occasionally they mention important things you didn't realize you needed to do. But here's my problem. I'm already a bit obsessive and an inveterate lister about all things work-related. List-making is actually something I've been trying to do less of because it feels so.....I don't know....all-consuming, driven, controlling, excessive. You get the idea. Anyway, the result of list-making for me is that I get so list focused (Oh, the joy of crossing off another item on the list!) that the process gets lost. And even worse.....people and the joy of the everyday get lost as well. So, I had this idea after a conversation with a friend about our mutual spring struggle over the vastness of spring gardening work (Yes, dear friend, if you are reading this... thanks for the inspiration). I decided to make a different kind of spring to-do list for myself. One that didn't feel overwhelming or obsessive. And I thought I'd share it with you. Here goes:
3. Enjoy the process (rather than focusing on the endpoint or the next thing that needs to be done). Yeah, I know- weeding is a never-ending chore that requires back breaking effort and sometimes I just want it to be over. But there is something pleasant about feeling those dandelion roots release their hold and get lifted out of the soil. And watching that pile of pulled weeds accumulate in the bucket. Is there something to be appreciated about the process of edging? Maybe the nice loamy smell of the dirt clods or that even line forming along your garden beds. Mulching? Not so sure...I guess I'll have to figure out how to appreciate the process as I'm out there doing. I just know that it seems like a good idea for just about any work I do.
2. Listen to the background music while you garden. I'm an ornithologist by training as well as a gardener, so you'd think I would pay attention to the bird songs I love so well. If I'm too driven by the garden tasks, though, I can easily miss the lyrical song of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak (one of my favs) or the buzzy burr of the Chipping Sparrow right over my head. What a shame! It's those background sounds of nature that make the gardening experience richer and more pleasant. So I'm going to try not to relegate my birding only to jaunts in the woods and stop to listen while I'm planting potatoes or weeding.
4. Notice your neighbors (and stop for a chat). Winter in my Central New York neighborhood is the time when my neighbors disappear for months and are only occasionally spotted pulling into their garages or snow blowing the driveway. Once spring comes- there they are again, mowing the lawn, walking the dog or just enjoying the sunshine. And I don't want to miss the chance to catch up with their news and get to know them better. So....maybe rather than ticking one more thing off my internal list of garden chores (Yes, I have one of those- somehow not writing the list down doesn't stop me from making one in my head), I should take the time to stroll next door for a chat or share some of the flowers from my garden. Another way to foil my driveness!
This is my official spring to-do list. Maybe you want to make one of your own so you can enjoy spring and the gardening process more. Let me know what you come up with. I can add it to my list.....