Where does the morning go?
July 16, 2005
It is axiomatic that a sizable amount of the time it takes to do anything is used rounding up the things to do it with. Furthermore, it always takes longer to do something than the time allotted to it. Much of the terrain of my garden requires scrambling over rocks and negotiating retaining walls – without trampling any horticultural treasures. So it is irritating if I have to go all the way back to the house from the outfield to fetch something.I kept this in mind early on a perfect July gardening morning as I loaded my deep-bellied plastic garden cart. I checked my list and chose my tools and supplies accordingly. In went the loppers and the small spade, the weed digger, trowel and the basket of irrigation fittings. I located my pruners and gloves and filled the two-gallon watering can, which I carefully wedged in so it wouldn’t slosh.I rechecked my list and patted myself on the back for being so organized and efficient. I was going to get such a lot accomplished this morning. It must be the good night’s sleep I had, rising early and eating a good breakfast of organically grown oatmeal and blueberries, I thought. Makes for a clear, calm mind and body, ready for action. More people should do it.You can guess what happened next: The unbalanced cart tipped forward, scattering tools and tiny irrigation components. When something falls, you automatically try to stop it; I grabbed at that watering can just before it emptied and had my morning shower right there in full view of the neighbors.I started over with a new respect for the center of gravity. I left the reloaded cart parked by the house while I watered the plants in the sidewalk strip. The soil was so dry the water ran right off, so I put the spout of the watering can close to the base of each plant and dribbled it, waited, dribbled some more, waited … watching the color of the ground change as it gradually absorbed moisture. This spring I dug self-sown seedlings of lavender and pine-leaf penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius) from the desert border and transplanted them here. The ones planted before the rains were doing better than the ones planted later. I was excited to see new growth on them so soon after planting. I guess the roots had grown enough to spare some energy for stems and leaves.Some of the California poppies had set seed. I wished I had something to collect them in. I save things like film canisters for the purpose but they were up in the garage. Should I run up and get one? I like to collect the seeds of the first and largest flowers to propagate. I want more of this wonderful, adaptable poppy, Eschscholzia califonica, whose silky orange flowers light up the garden like nothing else. I made a mental note to grab a container when I got the cart. I pulled a few weeds, mostly various tree seedlings and unwanted cornflowers. I snapped the fading flowers off the perennial sweet peas and teased the last dying narcissus foliage out of them. I couldn’t root out a stray myrtle spurge because I get a rash from the sap and I didn’t have my gloves. I had to leave the dandelion and old mullein root, too, until I had the spade or weed digger. I wished my Japanese Hori-Hori knife would turn up. It’s a trowel, a weeder and a knife combined; it worked well and I miss it.My watering can was empty and I was nowhere near done. I didn’t remember setting out that many new plants. I seemed to be adding to my list instead of crossing things off. The day was warming up and I had shed my jacket ages ago. I wonder where I left it? Now I was hot, thirsty and sore and my watch said it was past lunchtime. Where did the morning go? So much for being organized and efficient. I might just as well have walked out with my clippers in hand and started on the first thing that came along. I knew where the tools were kept if I needed another one. Of course, I did accomplish one huge thing, but it wasn’t on my list. I spent the whole beautiful morning outdoors in my garden.Anna gardens in Basalt with her husband, Gerry, dog Maggie, and a cart full of tools. She’d love to hear about your garden at email@example.com. Please write Anna’s Garden in the e-mail subject line.