May hovers over the city on wings of promise; that the summer sun will awaken the garden and warm rain showers will wash away the long cold drought of the past month. It seems that in a matter of days, Dublin has been painted with the colours of late spring. While last week, I was braced against driving sleet and howling winds and lamenting the loss of everything I’d planted; the past few days, the temperature is steadily rising and looks set to reach the high teens this weekend. My plot is swiftly coming to life. In every bed and every empty space, young plants push themselves above the surface of the soil and everywhere I look is littered with new life.
The natural world around me is teaching me a valuable lesson in patience. I’ve spent the past month eager to sow seeds that would never have germinated and the act of planting outdoors would have been a wasted effort; ergo, I have simply waited.
I am a person who finds it hard to wait for anything. I am impatient by nature and never fully content with my current progress, be it in the garden or in life. My mind is always ten steps ahead of my body, I am forever looking to the future, to the next hour, the next day, the next week, eager and anxious to know what lies ahead. I spend most nights playing out the possibilities of the future in my mind: Will I succeed? Will I be happy? Will I live a good enough life? Forever hungry for achievement, I am not content until I feel I have succeeded, until I have progressed. It’s a stressful and exhausting way to live and I find myself in an almost infinite state of mental fatigue.
The pursuit of gardening has become the antithesis to my overactive mind. Nature is teaching me to slow down, to live in the moment, to ground myself. This wonderful planet we live on moves ever forward through time in cycles outside of our control and I am learning to move with it instead of racing against it. Learning to wait is one of the greater lessons that gardening has taught me. Yearning to succeed in the garden every year, I’ve had a tendency to rush in too early in the season and find myself frustrated in June and July when nothing has grown as expected. Each harvest season, I stand on the plot and wonder why all the labour I’ve put in during the early Spring has failed to come to fruition, why after a year of steady gardening, I have very small yields of crops. I’ve come to realise that while my eagerness to have a productive plot is a positive pursuit, I need to spend more time waiting. I’m learning that waiting for the right time isn’t a waste of time.
It is now May and I have waited. The world spins on and is the greatest clock at my disposal. The temperatures have risen, the sun is shining and the earth is telling me it’s time to grow.
I’ve been visiting the plot each evening this week to plant some crops and water the garden. When just last week, my raised beds were all but empty, I now have beetroot, peas, french beans, mangetout beans, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, basil, khol rabi, aubergines and strawberries bursting to life. My tulips are growing, my gladioli are spiking into the air, my artichokes and asparagus are returning and the whole plot is waking up from its annual slumber.
The cycle of the seasons moves ever forward and I’m learning to trust the movement of time, I’m learning how to navigate this life with patience. I am growing in tandem with my garden.