Next year I will turn 70 years old. I didn’t take much notice of the previous 4big birthdays, but this one seems to loom over me ominously.
It might be because at the back of my mind, I think that this could be the last decade that I will see. Suddenly the seasonal changes seem more poignant. Will I only ever see another ten springs? The urgency to grow more in my garden has begun to make me feel anxious. If I don’t plant those fruit trees now, I may never see them bear fruit.
And don’t the days seem to pass much more quickly now? The rush to get things done has never settled. The to-do list seems to get longer rather than shorter.
I could be outside weeding and pruning the forsythia, shredding garden waste, planting seeds. Or maybe trekking through some valleys (ignoring the pain in my knee). What about the garden furniture that needs to be painted?
There are days when I look outside and think that the garden will always be there and I should treat it as a pleasurable hobby rather than an unsurmountable task. I don’t have to be superwoman wielding a chainsaw, I can call for a young man who has trained to do the job. Then the next day I wake and think that I can do it all myself. (I can’t.)
I am one of those people that can’t relax in the garden because all I can see are things that need doing. I can sit just long enough to drink a cup of coffee. And I don’t even believe in having a tidy garden with a beautifully manicured lawn. I plan to leave the grass tall this year to allow flowering plants to come through, like the clover, to attract bees. It is easier for me to relax in somebody else’s garden, or a public park.
I have found a new way to procrastinate over the tasks on that long list.
I sit down and I write.
It doesn’t burn any calories and the weeds mock me as I look outside the window. Yes, there is a sense of some satisfaction on completing a piece of writing, but there is always more to do. In effect, it has just added a completely new page to my to-do list.
The biggest issue is prioritizing. If I have only got a finite time left, how do I fill it? Do I choose projects that will potentially make my life easier, and then feel guilty about not striving hard enough? Or do I push myself to try and achieve new and challenging tasks every day so I can go to bed thinking that I didn’t waste the day?
Never being truly satisfied by my achievements is a tough cross to bear. I know in my heart that when I am gone, the garden will simply keep on growing and my attempts to tame it will be immaterial. It is not a great legacy.
Maybe writing is a better choice. But how to split the day up satisfactorily? My plans are often entirely thrown out by changes in the weather. A bright, sunny, not-too-cold day can’t be ignored in the south of Scotland, because they don’t come all that often. Out I go with my gardening gloves and wellington boots. At the end of the day then what do I do? I berate myself for not having done any writing!