How’s YOUR back?

Gardening has taught me patience. Not because I have to wait for plants to grow, but because I have to deal with myself.

Or maybe it’s just that with age has come a bit of wisdom. All I know is that now, in my retirement years, I’ve learned that yard work doesn’t have to be done all at once, and I’m trying to carry that new awareness into the rest of my life.

When I was much younger, spring to me meant backbreaking bingesLadder in the yard, pulling weeds, planting flowers, mowing, trimming, clipping, digging, in all the flower beds, on the same day. Even if I managed to get everything done that one day, just the idea of the maintenance required to keep things looking nice produced weed-inducing procrastination. In those days, gardening was an all-or-nothing proposition.

It’s not like that any more. It CAN’T be like that any more. With age may come wisdom where gardens are concerned, but that’s because age also brings gratzy knees and a twingy back. Overdoing means being overdone and a trip to the chiropractor where I spend money I could have spent on flowers.

So now, I take an hour  here and an hour there, pulling a few weeds, removing old growth and stopping now and then to listen to the birds or feed the chipmunks who like to eat out Gardensof my hand. The next day I may take another hour. I work on cloudy days when it’s not too hot, or when there’s shade and a nice breeze. After all, I’m retired. I should enjoy being able to pick and choose and follow no schedule but my own.

I use a garden bench to avoid back-killing stooping, dragging it along with me as I move, foot by foot, through the garden. I use a wheelbarrow to lug dirt-filled pots. I’ve been been known to let the weeds lie in a pile overnight, and pick them up the next day. I bet no one even notices.

I don’t even buy my annuals at the same time. I used to arrive at the greenhouse with a long list, and Stoolby the time I carried several flats of flowers to the car I was already too tired to even think of gardening. Now, I get the ones for the pots I like best, bring them home, leave them on the deck, and then, when it suits me, I plant a few. When those are planted, I get more if I need them, and repeat the process.

Today, when I got home from an errand and was heading for the house, I stopped to pull a few weeds that were in my line of sight. Next time I’m outside I’ll pull a few more. I’ll grab some as I take Lady for a walk, or before I settle down for Morning Prayer. There will be others waiting, and I WILL get to them–tomorrow.

SeagullTo some people, this would sound like procrastination. But this is where the wisdom comes in. It has taught me that slow but sure still gets the job done. I didn’t rush, hurry, knock myself out or work until I dropped, but my veggies are in, my pots are full, and it’s a pleasure to just sit on the deck and enjoy.

Best of all, my back doesn’t hurt, and my knees aren’t  complaining. THAT’S the way gardening should be done. All it takes is a little patience.

 

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
This entry was posted in gardening, getting older, Lifestyle, Reflection, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How’s YOUR back?

  1. blb1 says:

    Good for you. I bent over to pull a Hackberry (tree sprout)the other morning and went head long into the bed of river rocks and steel edging. Getting out was long and hard and left bruises. My bending and twisting days are done.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Oh, ouch! Makes me hurt just reading that. I suppose the day will come when I have to stop altogether–but maybe not. Maybe I’ll always be able to do a little something. My next-door neighbor has one paralyzed arm and one leg in a brace that doesn’t bend, and she still gets out there and putzes a bit. She’s a former farm lady, and I know she can hardly resist puttering with plants. She’s severely limited, now, she’ll still pull a weed or two. We just have to know our limitations.

  2. It fits with my approach to life — if you don’t show up, you don’t get to play the game. That means steady as she goes, and keep at it bit by bit, but don’t overdo it and wear yourself out in the process. Thanks for your reflection!

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