Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Writing in the Dirt

I spent some quality time this weekend poking in my little garden patch to see what was missing and what was needed, writing my wish list, choosing a suitable sunhat, then driving to my favourite nursery haunt. I had a lovely time wandering the paths dreaming of all the sunny colour combinations that I could create on our little piece of the earth, and visualizing how each plant would look next to the others, how the whole thing would flow.

Swayed by some of the showy perfect photos and descriptive promises, I tried hard to stick to my plan and the list. On Saturday, on my own, that mostly worked. I ticked off several items and only added 1 or 2 small uninvited ones.
On Sunday, my husband joined me, and we had a happy time strolling the paths of our other favourite garden centre, where I easily let him talk me into a couple of quite large potted perennials not on the plan at all. So much for the plan.

When we got home, we plunked down the new pots in the spaces that were planned for their new homes – the ones on the original plan. Then came the adopted ones, not on the plan. We walked around our petite space to see things from every angle, hoping to find an empty spot to fill. Eventually, we managed to wiggle them all in somehow, as most of the original ‘keep it simple’ plan happily went out the window.

This gardening thing to me is a bit like writing – at least the way I approach it. You start with an idea, and sketch out your plan, and it all goes swimmingly – in your head. In your head, it is a beautiful thing.

Then you start. And as you get digging into it, you hit a few rocks, and a few unexpected details, and some flowery stuff that doesn’t always quite fit in with the original plan -- the one that went so smoothly from start to finish, in your head.

Oh well, I think that this is really the fun of both gardening and writing. You can begin in one direction, with an orderly image in your head, and no invasive weeds or too-tall bushes, and with no unexpected dead-end twists or annoying facts ever appearing to tangle you up. But life isn’t like that. And really, neither is gardening or writing. And I think that is what makes it all fun. You never know what is going to grow.

Catherine Lee (Cathy) is a college textbook buyer in Ottawa, has been a bookseller and book buyer by trade for most of her life, and is a member of 2 book clubs. She became a book lover on her parents’ knees at story time & by flashlight under the bed sheets. One of her greatest pleasures is sharing great books with friends, of course while sipping wine. Her blogs appear the final Wednesday of each month.

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