Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gardening in the summer

I hate gardening in the summer. Down here it's dry and there's no lushness, no fecundity, and almost no growth. I'm just trying to keep a few things alive: the sad yellow basil, some sad yellow roses, a drooping tomato or two. Even the zucchinis, so overwhelmingly abundant in past years, are struggling to produce. This is a time of getting through, when stasis is a win. And I hate it. The things I love, the planning and planting of seeds, the tending of soil, don't happen as I spend my time watering and mulching and hoping for some rain.

But still, I dug around a dry bed of potato plants, put in when things were damp, and there, sitting just under the soil, were rosy Desirees, quietly waiting. Now, there's an allegory that's difficult to miss.

A good thing, too, as things here are at a tipping point. I have been smashed by a tsunami at work. I am the only one left standing as the senior team members are struck down by illness and bereavement. Not so long ago I was the junior person and now I am the senior, with all of the admin. and negotiations and constant emails and phone calls that entails. My boss has been divine in giving me actual, useful support and absolute flexibility in my working hours. But of course, as everyone in an office knows, each email, each phone call, takes a bite out of the time we use for something else. And I suspect I am like most of the working population, in that the something elses that are whittled away are the something elses that keep me half-way healthy and sane. Indeed, the something elses are what fill the well so that I can do my job.

I know this, I talk about this with every other mother I know. I know the magic list: yoga; walking in the morning; 8 hours sleep; no alcohol, sugar or junk food; something creative outside of work; some time with friends; some time by myself. But that list once again sits there unacknowledged and unchecked and I wonder why I'm doing this to myself yet again. I know the answer: socialisation, gender identity, organisational structures, psychological make-up; but my question is, why do I find myself asking the question when I know that answer? Theory alone won't bring about praxis.

So I am writing this down, for me, because when I put something in words it's real to me: I am doing my stuff first. Each morning I am playing with words, each evening I am pottering with the things that matter to me. Each day I am reminding myself that I am not a heart surgeon, nor a U.N. negotiator, nor a rescue worker; no one will die if I do things on my terms and at my pace.

This is an old, old song I am singing here, and I hope that one day, I'll remember the words and stay in tune.