On the acquiring of patience

I am a 41 year old mostly-woman (she? they? it’s a journey), and I am finally beginning to acquire patience.

Here’s the thing about patience, which I am learning as I acquire it. I used to think I had it. I didn’t. And I know that because patience sucks.

I have learned it through the process of gardening. Plants move at their own pace. There is absolutely nothing in all the span of space and time that I can do to make the little buggers grow in faster. There is nothing like pursuing an endeavor where you have absolutely no choice except to wait for the results of your labor to teach you the truth of patience. What it really feels like (awful). How to tolerate it. How worthwhile it really is, when the payoff eventually rolls around.

I bought this house three years ago, and have been working on it since then. My aim isn’t only to build pretty gardens, although I do cherish the small oasis of peace and nature where I can retreat from the world when it gets too loud, but to re-establish a little slice of the native ecosystem that should exist where I live, to heal the soil and provide habitat for our birds and insects that are in decline, and to grow and nurture native plants that are becoming hard to find in our woods. 

And…I am at one and the same time gratingly aggravated that I am still waiting–waiting every year, because every year I look at what I have and tend it and do a little more work to expand and diversify and nurture–but also I feel exalted every time spring rolls around and the garden grows in a little more lush than last year, a little more healthy. When I see a few more native insects and birds.

Last year: monarch butterflies, goldfinches, a Cooper’s hawk, ladybugs. This year: woolybear caterpillars, a rose-breasted grosbeak, cedar waxwings, another hawk, a dragonfly. Native grasses whose roots run deep enough to begin amending the clay and sop up some of the standing water we get in spring. And from my little vegetable garden, a full bucketload of carrots and leeks and even a handful of cucumbers from a late-planted seedling.

Things the natural world teaches us, right? Deep breaths. 

Maybe it’ll help me with my writing too, because god knows I need more patience there.

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