Thursday, August 19, 2004

rough hands

I've been gardening without wearing gloves lately and my finger nails and cuticles are getting a bit ragged. I cut the nails back, but the cuticles require using hand lotion, something I usually only have to use in the dry winter months.

Which reminds me of what the esteemed AKMA said to me during my brief meeting him last winter at a Seabury chapel service: "Your hands don't feel like a gardener's hands."

That would seem a bit unfair, given that it was in the middle of winter and I had been deprived of working in the soil for many weeks due to cold temps and frozen soil. I think I mumbled something about it not being the season. I suppose I could have showed him my poor toes, bruised and cut from gardening barefooted, something else I should not do nor really intend to do. But I spared him and the lovely Jane and Susie such a demonstration in the chapel outside of the proper liturgical season.

As much as I enjoy feeling the dirt, I try to remember to put on gloves and to wear shoes. The older I get, the more I realize that that scrapes, cuts and splinters can be prevented. But more often than not, my gardening is not planned. I start one project and end up on another, I walk past the garden while taking out the trash or checking the mail and see a weed and then I am lost for an hour or two (or more), weeding, or cutting something back. And so hands and toes get whacked by rough dirt or stems or tree limbs

This is not the most productive way to organize one's life, or work in the garden, but it what I do often, trying to keep in mind the ever present priority of what needs to happen now (soil worked, certain plants transplanted or divided, for example). Gardening is so reliant on weather and season that it is important to pay attention to the working "to do" list. Even with good intentions, certain projects get pushed aside until the next time that is optimal for doing the work.

And yet, the work gets done, and I am satisfied at seeing these things happen, the result of work with my hands. Knowing that we may end up moving next year, I have worked harder this year on the garden than I have in previous years, trying to finish projects. The good weather this summer has helped, and partner has been patient in losing me on many weekend days.

The fall season is just ahead -- I've seen three trees this week that have started turning leaf color -- and I am already starting to think about what I want to get done. I've already stopped pinching the asters -- a wave of pink bloom has already spread throughout the sedums. I'll thin both fall plants, abundant throughout the garden, once their time of blooming is over.

A long anticipated holiday is only a few weeks away. And then, with cooler airs blowing through the trees, and soils more damp and chilled, I'll dig and move and work, plotting like Katharine White, next spring's resurrection.


avril said...

Unplanned gardening is the best kind, I think, and the kind that leaves the most gratifying results to look upon. Check out for a wonderful site that contains an always updated and comprehensive to-do list to keep one on track.

lemming said...

The dirt and broken nails show that you are whole-hearted.

Dirty feet at the end of a summer's day are a piece of childhood I cherish. :-)