Out in the garden.

- May 27, 2018 -

A new gardening season is upon us, here in Saskatchewan, now that we’ve finally passed the Victoria Day long weekend. Prior to that point, there was still a good chance of waking up to a flowerbed that was damaged beyond repair — because of frost, for instance, or because of extreme shifts between hot and cold temperatures — so most people didn’t take the risk of planting anything before then.

Even now, though, it’ll be a while before I actually manage to get anything in the ground. So far, I’ve just been doing the rather unglamorous work of cleaning up after last year’s garden, raking away the long, tangled stems of dried-up old weeds and pulling out the stalks of dead plants, seeing as I never actually got around to getting everything tidied up before the snow hit back in October. All I’ve really been doing, then, is catching up on the work from two seasons ago, work that still needs to be done before I can begin prepping the soil for anything new.

. . .

Last spring was the first time that I had ever really tried my hand at gardening. And, as some of you might remember, it didn’t take long for me to realize that it wasn’t at all the frictionless, zen-like experience that gets depicted on tv. It required, in fact, a great deal more energy than I was prepared for, most of which was rooted in the constant, unending maintenance that needed to be done throughout the week, and none of which was ever really finished.

In many ways, I’m only just now beginning to realize how equally true that is of the writing life, how firmly rooted it is in the constant, day-to-day work of tending to a garden. Because, really, I used to think that, after a certain point, after I had metaphorically cleared away all of the weeds and finished prepping the soil, I just wouldn’t have to keep moving through those initial stages as a writer anymore.

By now, though, I’ve come to realize that there will never be a point at which those early stages of preparatory work will be so complete that I won’t ever have to return to them. Every piece I write will require me to move through more or less the same process as I am moving through now with this spring garden of mine, all the way from cleaning away the remains of an earlier harvest to picking out new plants and pruning the dead blooms.

With feeling,
– J


This piece comes from Jana M. Perkins’ newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.