Glimpse Of Spring
She arrived without fanfare
a quick visit
a prelude to the grand arrival
She thought she’d be unnoticed
but I saw her
I caught a glimpse of Spring last week.
Since we are planning and preparing for a new season of gardening, now is a good time to start keeping a garden journal. Putting down ideas, plans, designs, progress, day to day horticultural happenings are extremely useful and enlightening. My paternal grandmother wrote a diary every day and I remember being very intrigued by that. She never encouraged me to do the same but I must have inherited the journaling gene because since my 20s, I have always kept journals. At first it was about my life in general – I vented, ruminated and, celebrated all the goings on. I wrote about my hopes and plans. The pages of my journals bore witness to my tears over disappointments, pride over triumphs and mostly a whole lot of mundane rubbish.
As a scientist, I learned to keeping meticulous notes of my work on a daily basis. Once I acquired some land on which to garden, maintaining a log of my activities combined with my observations and thoughts was natural. Keeping notes leaves nothing to memory which is notoriously unreliable. The records allow for comparing, referencing and following the progress of the garden over the years.
I’m always shocked by how inaccurate I am when remembering something that occurred in the garden. My garden entries are testimonials to this fact. I’ll be informing no one in particular about the delay in or early blooming of certain flowers only to read that the pattern is exactly the same as before. The same for how I recall the weather and how it affected my garden. If word of how poorly I recall these matters got out, those who must deal with me on a regular basis might rethink the association. But the truth is, most people have the same problem. Hence, it is well worth the time and effort to write down all relevant points.
Tasks, expenses, opinions, successes, failures, ideas and dreams all get written down. What is in bloom or in fruit, what the temperatures have been and how much rain has fallen are noted. Pests and problems are lamented. Nothing at length: just succinct reporting. There is the most to write about during the busy season which of course means there is the least time available to do so. I have often lapsed in putting down all the garden goings on and lived to regret it. A forgotten brilliant idea is plainly useless.
I do take lots of photos and they are incredibly helpful. But like a doting parent, I tend to capture the garden only when it is on it’s best behavior and not when it is throwing a tantrum and presenting itself in a weedy, pest ridden state. Amends are being made and I have begun to capture those not so proud moments. Photos do not however convey emotions, opinions and dreams. What I think I must do, might do, want to do can’t be surmised from an image. So it is still necessary to record those down.
Journals don’t get written with a view to leaving a legacy but there is a part of me that harbors the thought that perhaps one day when this piece of earth is no longer mine, my writings will enable the next gardener to understand why, what and how it used to be.
What would be interesting is to see how influential what goes on in the garden has on my writings in my personal diary which, over the years has become more reflective and less self absorbed. Did I write deep, poetic and/or witty thoughts the same week the garden looked great and all the related tasks got done? Do the seasons in the garden parallel the seasons in my life? I’ll bet there is a direct correlation but, I’ll set that project aside for now. There is much else to get done.
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar