For the past few days I have up to the proverbials in rose-thorns, leaf litter, mud and, inadvertently, the stream that runs through my son’s garden. I may have moaned about the cold and the wet, and the sojourn in the stream was entirely unplanned, but I do enjoy gardening. Not so much the wafting around with a pair of secateurs, dead-heading the blooms and tutting at the greenfly, but more the heavy-duty stuff. I have always enjoyed digging…though that will not stop me complaining about it, just on principle, and if I didn’t, my joints would do it for me.
Last year, the winter weather set in before I had put either my garden or my son’s to bed for the year, so this year I was determined to get it done. I managed to get my grass short before the ground became too waterlogged to mow it, but what with one thing and another, this week was the first chance I have had to tackle the bigger job at my son’s home.
That has not been too much of a problem as, until the last few days, there has been no frost and the weather has been unseasonably mild. The roses are still in full bloom, as is the fuchsia, coreopsis and even some of the bedding begonias… it seemed a shame to curtail such persistent beauty.
Even so, this is England at the end of November…time was running out and a weather window presented itself that was too good to miss. Several consecutive days of dry, sunny weather… and if it was going to be cold, the work I needed to do, I thought, would keep me warm. I was wrong about that… the temperature plummeted and the spray from the jet-washer would have made a snowman shiver.
After yesterday’s mishap, falling in the stream, I really did not feel like driving back down there today and starting again, but it was another sunny day…and how many more of those can I expect? So, I got the job done….and, as I drove home, finally satisfied with the results, I saw rain clouds coming in and the first drops beginning to fall.
Weather, like life itself, is notoriously unpredictable, even when the forecast looks good, anything can happen. That recalcitrant butterfly in far-off climes can cause havoc with the wind patterns and bring the rain clouds early, putting paid to any idea of ‘leaving it till tomorrow’.
You have to accept what the day offers and run with it. Refuse or procrastinate, and the opportunity may not come again to achieve what it is that you desire. How often do we dream our dreams and think ‘if only’ or ‘I will do it when…’ We put things off until some future date because the conditions are not quite what we would like….only to find that, when that ‘when’ arrives, it is too late. We no longer have the freedom, youth, money or health to seek the fulfilment of our dreams.
A weather window does not always mean getting perfect weather. It may indeed be sunny, but the temperature may be sub-zero. It could be warm enough…but raining. It does not have to be perfect…we just need it to be sufficiently okay to get the job done.
Had I not cleared the garden for winter, the garden would not have minded. It continues to grow as it will whether it is scrubbed and trimmed or not. But, had I not done the garden, I would not have spotted that one of the local stray cats has hurt its paw and so could not have tried to help. I would not have had the joy of watching the wren and the blackbirds, seen the squirrel scurrying through the branches or smiled at the curious kite circling overhead. I would not have had the robins following me for days, so close I could have touched them and I would not have seen the first signs of spring piercing the earth.
And, had I put the job off because, in spite of the sun, it was very cold, the garden would have survived the winter but, come spring, its treasures would have been hidden beneath the dead leaves and sprawling thorns. When spring comes again, the clematis flowers would have been drowned in dead branches and the tiny roses lost in the evergreens.
There is a season for everything, and a garden teaches you that not only are its needs seasonal because of the weather patterns, but present and future gifts depend on them being done when the time is right. Tomorrow’s beauty depends upon what you are prepared to do today.
Weather windows come when they will, for gardens, and for dreams. We have to be ready to accept them, even if they do not seem perfect… because not only may they never come again, but sometimes, what does not seem quite right, may turn out to be just perfect after all.