This morning I woke early and got a walk in along a misty vineyard path. It was lovely. I was rather damp by the time my Traveling Partner pinged me a cheerful greeting alerting me he was awake. My arthritis has been a serious nuisance for days. I feel it. Try not to bitch about it too much – just deal with it best I can. Today it’s pretty bad. I take my medication early, and a hot shower after I return home from my walk. I feel it, though. I breathe through the pain, aware of it, letting it go, moving on to other things. I do this as often as it crowds its way into the forefront of my thoughts. I have other shit to think about today.

…Spring is coming…

I reflect on impermanence and think about the new year of gardening ahead. I managed to grow some tasty vegetables last year. Not enough to “feed us”, but enough for a taste, and that felt like a win. It’s at least a beginning. I like beginnings (you may have noticed). So, I sit down this morning with my garden map, my pictures of last year’s gardening, my thoughts and a cup of coffee. Where will I begin this year? I know that the amount of preparation I put into my garden will make a difference to the outcome. The quality of the seeds and plants, and the skill and labor I put into it will matter, too. A lot.

…It’s a metaphor…

If I approach my garden haphazardly, with poor quality seeds strewn hither and thither without any effort to “make them comfy” and give them a good start, then give them no more attention than an occasion sprinkling of water on a hot afternoon, my results will likely be minimal germination, weak thirsty disease prone seedlings that produce little fruit. I’ll be disappointed. How do I know this? I’ve done it. LOL

If I plan with care, choose good quality seeds and varieties that are known to do well in my climate, plant them in prepared soil that is in good condition with real care, watering them in properly and tending them as they break ground by removing competing weeds and thinning to prevent over-crowding, I’ll likely see robust seedlings that thrive to become strong plants that fruit well. How do I know this? Well, I could point to many videos and books… but I’ve done this, too, and so I know the likely outcome.

Sometimes the effort involved in getting a great result seems like… much. Even “too much”. The thing is, the results don’t care about my subjective experience of the effort involved. It’s true that the feelings are only that; feelings. Sure, sure – feel those. I mean, how else? Just don’t expect your feelings (or sensations, or emotions) to change the results of your effort. That’s now how it works. So, commit and do it, or don’t – your results will vary based on the verbs you’ve used, the skill you applied, the materials you made use of, and … yeah… some luck. And help. Probably. For real. Life and the results we get are not truly 100% within our own hands – we don’t get where we’re going alone.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

I smile and think about the day my Traveling Partner and I built the raised bed planter. What a lovely surprise that was, and what a delightful anniversary. Every day that I go into my garden, I am reminded of his love. He’s not “into” the gardening itself, but he loves me, loves that I enjoy the gardening, loves to make it easier for me to do more (and more skillfully), and enjoys helping me figure out various challenges. He clearly gets something out of making things for me and seeing me delight in using them. I think about the new year. I’ll be asking for a second raised bed planter this year, to add to the first one and extend the garden a bit. The practical details of love – and cooking! I enjoy growing veggies that later make their way onto our table.

I think about last year’s failures. Those are more valuable right now than the successes; they tell me what and how to change. They are what I learn from. I consider the total failure of gardening efforts out in the back, beyond the deck. It’s just too shady, and it’s frankly a bit hazardous getting up and down from that garden space on the earthen steps, which are often slick with dew, or muddy from recent rain. Less than ideal, and I ended up putting in less than the necessary effort down there. So. Not again. Nope. My Traveling Partner called it correctly the year we moved in; that space is not well-suited to gardening and should simply be kept tidy and free of clutter. On it. I turn my attention to my “to-do list” briefly and add some items about clearing away all remnants of gardening attempts back there. Restore order. Move on. That was the big failure. The other notable “failure” honestly has to do with a neighbor… the orange cat next door that digs in my raised bed. If it were just the digging, I might “look the other way” and shrug it off, but he’s pooping in my damned garden. That needs to stop. I contemplate what an easily removable wire cover might look like… and think creatively about what other solutions I may have. (I tried just asking him to stay on his side, but I clearly have not gotten through. LOL)

It’s a lovely morning to think about gardening, to plan, to prepare, and to seek solutions to ongoing challenges. That’s probably true of more than gardening. If nothing else, it’s a good morning to begin again.