Waiting: Moral of the Frustrated Gardener with help from Edna

“I will be the gladdest thing

Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!”
– Afternoon on a Hill, Edna St. Vincent Millay


In the past few weeks it’s been frigid here, with arctic chills and frosty rooftops. I have learned that I am not cut out for Wisconsin and I’ve daydreamed about Palm Desert.
The children have been gluing, cutting, coloring and marking. They have been dancing in the kitchen and helping me make homemade pancakes, and they have been crazy and wild. We have all wanted to go outside. We have wanted the sunshine; the ability to ride bikes down the street without freezing our handle bars off.
Before the cold front, or perhaps DURING the cold front (in an act of thoughtless enthusiasm) I took a trip to the nursery and bought my son’s weight in flowers (When I inherit the wind and a thousand million dollars, I will buy my weight in flowers). A new house means a new garden, and I’m not one to weed without a reward in sight.
Then, for a week, the flowers sat in their aqua blue six packs and I stayed warm and read my Western Gardening book by lamplight.
I read about Ivy.
I read about Wild Strawberry.
I started to fret. I started to hear the garden growing. You see, my garden is large and overgrown with those two plants, which some classify as Invasive Weeds (I classify them as My Undoing).
I tried once, to bundle my kids and throw them outside for some tromping and trailing in the backyard. I ripped the strawberry plants out at the breakneck speed of two feet per hour. After forty five minutes, a little boy was informing me that his hands were cold. He looked a little blue.
We went inside.
I looked out my window at the frost and the ivy and the strawberry, strawberry, strawberry, STRAWBERRY! and I cried inside.
So, I planned a last minute trip to the coast, to the sun and the sand.
I stood on the beach with a sweatshirt, a small boy, and a small blue stuffed bunny. We watched the waves. We watched the older brother run around and throw sand.
My family gathered sea shells and used them for shovels, and we threw muddy tennis balls out to sea for stranger’s Golden Retrievers.
I came home, tired, full of sand and dirty laundry.
I found my patience at sea. I spent the Monday back mopping and cleaning, and I didn’t fret about my yard. I threw myself into play dough and savored my children while my Iceland Poppies turned yellow in their plastic cages.
I knew someday, Some DAY, the weather would warm and I would be able to go outside.
Today. Was. That. Day.
I have cleared another two feet of strawberry (curse you strawberry!) I squished two baby snails, and I put those poor little poppies into the dirt.
The boys rode bikes and generously killed weeds for me. The weeds happened to be some adorable snapdragons that I had planted, but it’s the thought that counts.
I’m back inside, and it might be cold tomorrow. It might be cold this week. I’m okay with that. Someday, it will be sunny again.
If the sun is eluding you and you can’t find the light, do whatever you can to find it. Feed yourself sunshine, even if you have to borrow the rays from someone else. Then, wait in the dark, wait for the light. The light will come when you have done all you can do and given up, it will come when you wait.
p.s. when I find my camera I will show you pictures of my “secret garden” and we can take bets on how long it will take me to clear it out. The winner will get a prize. Unless, I forget about the prize, because I may not finish this project for 11 million years, and I’ll probably forget by then.

16 thoughts on “Waiting: Moral of the Frustrated Gardener with help from Edna

  1. “The light will come when you have done all you can do and given up, it will come when you wait.”

    I usually read and don't comment, but that sentence hit me so hard that I read it several times just to absorb it again. Such a peaceful feeling. I truly love that thought.

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  2. I WISH it were warm enough for gardening. I have a secret garden that is a joke. I put down some mulch and added a couple of chairs. The addiction continues. Loved your last paragraph. Awesome. How's the belly bump???

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  3. “Is this heaven? It smells like Wisconsin.”
    (from Veggie Tales)

    I can SO relate to this, JoAnn. This time of year I have to fight with everything that is in me not to roll up in a blanket and hibernate like a bear. I often visit greenhouses so as not to lose my grip. So glad you're back 🙂

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  4. JoAnn! You are forbidden to move ever, ever again! I've missed you too much. So, having spent most of yesterday digging out from New England's monster snowstorm, my head nearly exploded reading your post about strawberries and gardens and sunshine and beach–but in a good way. The sun is shining and sky is blue after the storm. You're right–our souls need to be fed some sunshine.

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  5. you make me think of one of my fave poetry lines ever: “For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)/ it's always ourselves we find in the sea”

    and i also love the surrender here…. the light always makes room in the dark, even if we just have to stop to allow it.
    and yes, how IS your pregnancy going? i can't remember if we're neck and neck or if you are a few weeks behind me?
    oh, and i know there is ZERO comparison but this southern gal can't deal w/ snow. at. all. so you get my biggest sympathy for the cold and the empathy for the garden in my head!!

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  6. how do snails even survive this type of weather? i never understand it, but pesky things have this way of thriving.

    ps i am betting you'll be done by april! march even, if you all get out those bikes and steamroll it in one go.

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  7. My husband is the anxious gardener in our house. The planning and plotting and building of more raised beds in January…it's overtaken him. He placed our big order to Gurney's this week so hopefully that will placate him. Although he did bring me tulips yesterday and they made me happy so maybe I shouldn't complain too much about his spring obsession eh?

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  8. i love every bit of this. i particularly love “without freezing our handle bars off” and the bit about when you gain the wind ….

    i needed this. i need sunshine. i'm so tired of snow. i'm so jealous you can even think of gardening right now. but i find warmth here in your post, so i'll visit when i'm feeling blue, and wondering if spring has forgotten me. please don't ever stop writing joann. i always treasure coming here.

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  9. I'm so glad you found some sun and some warmth. It has been cold here (ha!) lately and the other day I looked at my husband and said, “how do people live anywhere but Arizona?” I was all bundled up in 45 degrees. So, I hope you are blessed up there with some unnaturally bright and warm days, soon.

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