Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"had just settled down for a long winter's nap"

As soon as I got out of bed this morning I gathered a pile of gardening clothes - the beat up old pants and tshirt, permanently stained socks and baseball cap that I always wear for yard work - and carried them downstairs with me. Already my commitment to this blog is changing my behavior and patterns. Quite often I stay in my robe and start doing business before the tea water has even boiled, with every intention of going to the gym after I "get a few things done", only to end up five hours later with no exercise, never made the bed, still in my sweat pants and sleep shirt and frustrated even though I took care of 1001 things. But I didn't take care of myself.

Today I did attend to some urgent business matters, but my eye was on the window looking out on the "farm". We live in south Austin and have a plot of land 60'x130' that slopes down to the street. Our house sits in the middle of it - I hear that's great feng shui . Our place is far from manicured, has a vegetable garden of raised beds with lots of wayward plants growing among them, a windmill, a three bin compost pile, uber bamboo that is constantly marching towards the center of our universe from the perimeter of our property, a gnarly, beautiful old cedar tree that has fallen to its side and is being propped up by a "y" shaped branch wedged into it, a storage building that we call the outhouse, various fire pits and chimineas, mismatched lawn furniture, the wrought iron arch that we were married under....you get the picture.

So I kept my eye on the prize and my pile of gardening clothes, keeping in mind the six followers I already have for my blog! By 11AM I was out there with my hands in the soil. A breakthrough change in priorities for me.

I spent my hour cutting back the freeze damage in one bed - the Hibiscus, Mexican Heather, a flowering vine that was now a dried, brown stalk winding its way around the iron shelves where I keep my extra pots. I noticed that when I first began the work, my mind was flitting from one potential project to another. "Maybe I should go work in the shade garden"; "I need to pick up those sticks in the front yard"; "I ought to go to Home Depot and get some mulch". I recognize the pattern - the restless mind that I struggle with when I sit down to meditate, when I work in my office and keep hopping from one project to another, when I start to work on a song and have a hard time staying with it long enough to let it evolve. But in the garden the smell of the earth, the breeze on my face, the obvious needs of the plant in my hands keeps me there, grounds me long enough to slow down into that moment and before I know it I have tended to an entire bed and I can step back and see tangible progress.

When we first moved in here, 10 years ago now, I planted a Euryops in our backyard. I didn't grok the whole perennial thing yet, and when it died back in December and turned brown, I yanked it out and felt like a failure. I've never been very patient - I want to see results or move on. I know better now and when my perennials need to hibernate for the winter and take a break from all that showy flowery stuff, I let them and support them by getting rid of their excess baggage and surrounding them with an extra layer of mulch for warmth during their little winter nap.

Hmmmm...sounds like exactly what I need.

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