Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Work in Progress

by Kelly

"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves."
~Mahatma Gandhi

A work in progress.

That's how you could describe this stretch of landscaping in our backyard as I am currently in the process of digging up the monkey grass that grows here along the fence.

Now that spring has more or less taken hold in my neck of the woods and now that my spring fever is  off the charts(!!),  I'm hoping to implement some of the garden ideas that I have curated over the winter.  Namely a place for sun-loving flowers such as dahlias, zinnias, and daisies (oh my!).  And this patch of earth along the driveway will be, I hope, a perfect spot.

Before I can get to any of the fun stuff though, first I have to get this monkey grass out.  It was planted here by the previous owner so it is very well established.  But it's not really in the budget to hire it done (we have a front porch in dire need of repair so it has become our top priority), so that's why I am taking it on myself.  It's not terribly hard, but it is time-consuming.  And dirty.

The truth is that I actually don't mind it.  

I saw something recently that said something along the lines of 'working with your hands is the best antidote for being stressed in your head'.  I can totally testify to that.  I have found that working hard in the garden is quite gratifying (spoken as someone who sits on her butt in a cushy office all day at work).  Fore me, there is great satisfaction in actually building or creating something.  To have a personal, physical stake in the project.

The other thing about this project is that I am working on it in stages...this stretch along the driveway is about 35 feet long.  I hack away at it (literally) a little every day or so.  An hour here, an hour there...usually in the evening...until last light.  I start by stomping the shovel into soil and heaving up a giant clump of roots.  Then I use a pitchfork to help separate the clumps into smaller sections.  Eventually the roots will untangle and come free.

Repeat as necessary.

Laborious. Dirty. Time-consuming.  Yeah...not exactly the kind of projects that you're going to see go viral on Pinterest.  Or found on popular decorating shows on HGTV.

I was thinking about this while digging away one evening last week.  How it seems like our image-driven culture is quick to celebrate the end result, but really doesn't have much interest in or the patience for the work that is in progress. The not-quite-there yet. The in-between stages. Which is sad I think because that is where the progress is made.  That is where the lessons are learned.

Whether it's improving an area of your backyard or improving your life, I think the same principles apply.  And that is, there is an immense amount of dignity in just showing up and doing the work. Day after day. Enduring scrapes and the scratches and the dirty fingernails and the sore back. Chipping away at those things that keep us from the end goal that we are working towards. Making progress towards all things beautiful and positive and inspired and life-affirming.

It's not pretty. And it's not popular. But this is the work that I want to continue.  Because much like my garden, I am a giant, messy work in progress.

Until next time,



Isaida said...

Loved this and your pictures.

AFishGirl said...

The old saying, "chop wood, carry water." I think you've really hit the nail on the head with this post, Kelly. Those shows where the whole reno is done in half an hour, well... cough. Uh, no. And the way marketing and advertising prey on people and are truly infectious with these concepts of "get this and everything will be great" or "look like this and it'll be perfect and stress free." Uh, no. Not. Imagine if we were a culture that honoured the actual work, the digging and the DOING (literally and metaphorically). Imagine if we celebrated the process. Imagine what a shift that would be in the perception of the activities that are part of this journey we call life. You certainly have a way with words Kelly, and you take some danged nice photographs (smiling). Happy digging to you.

Unknown said...

Looking forward to when we see a picture of beautiful flowers in bloom! Just like us, sometimes the bad stuff comes in and takes root... we need time to clean our souls and just wait until the good grows . .and oh, the good is so, so beautiful!

heyjudephotography said...

It's so good to see all the dirty messiness of a project. We can't run from it with projects like this, just like we shouldn't run from it in life. We can learn so much from the dirty work. Thank you for sharing this Kelly, and I can't wait to see what all of your work brings!

Dotti said...

A garden is nothing if not a constant experiment and unending labor. You are to be commended for "digging in". I, too, can't wait to see the finished project!

Carol said...

You DO have a way with words. Every week when you write about your latest project, be it kitchen cabinets , scrapbooks or gardens, I want to do it too! This is really a beautiful post because it shows how all your projects relate to your view of the world, your work ethic, and your appreciation of life.

Cathy H. said...

I know the reward for all your hard work will be a beautiful spring/summer garden! I can't wait until the flowers bloom and we get to see them through your photography!

terriporter said...

That spot along your driveway looks custom made for some beautiful flowers and I can imagine how beautiful it's going to look! Your hard work will be rewarded tenfold, I'm sure! Can't wait to see the finished product.

Liz said...

A great post and parallel of what life is like! When we are patient and work hard, no matter how dirty and exhausting it is, we are rewarded for our efforts. You will have a lovely garden full of flowers to enjoy!

Unknown said...

What a great post Kelly...great analogy. There's something to be about hard work. I love getting my fingernails dirty and just spending time with a little piece of earth. It's going to be wonderful when you're done.

Anonymous said...

Wise words and a wonderful post. But I almost couldn't get to it...I was enjoying the slide show of spring images in the header so much that I didn't want to scroll down! :-)

kelly said...

thank you all so much for the kind words! I am really looking forward to getting to the fun part of this project! :)

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