I would like to plant a garden. Not an ordinary garden of course, I would prefer it to be amazing. I would prefer that when people walked into it they found themselves accidentally letting loose a muttered curse at its unexpected, playful beauty.
I would like to plant a garden, and I would prefer to be good at it immediately. I would prefer to have the first things I plant flourish exactly where I planted them. I would, of course, prefer that things grow very quickly up to the height that I would prefer and then stop growing.
I would like to plant a garden, but it must fit within my available time and energy. I do not want it to look low maintenance, in fact I would prefer it to have the look of a garden that is simultaneously wild and immaculately cared for. I would prefer to be seen as someone who has lovingly tended every inch of soil and green, but upon closer inspection there are a lot of inches of both soil and green, and so I would prefer if my new garden could meet me half way on this.
I would like to plant a garden that feeds my family for many months. It makes so much food that neighbours peer around the fence and wonder how we could possibly be picking tomatoes again. “How do they do it?”, I would prefer them to say, and of course I would prefer to know.
These were the words that came to me as I mocked my own impatience with my gardening enthusiasm. In our new back yard I am excited to build an extensive English-style cottage garden. I do want it to be amazing, and I have so much to learn.
I am constantly needing to remind myself that this knowledge cannot be rushed. No matter how much I want people to be impressed by my hard work and gumption, the work of this first year will be visually unremarkable. I will watch and learn what plants are already there. I will watch the sun through the seasons to see where the light is and where it is not. I will feel the wind as it whips through the hedges in the winter to find the sheltered spots vs the vulnerable ones. I will sit and learn… something that is to the outside observer utterly unremarkable.
I would prefer to be doing something rather than watching and learning… but I know that this is the foundation for building anything that matters.
And so, that is my reminder to any of you who are looking at the landscape of your finances and wishing things were different. I know you would prefer to have more money. You’d prefer for things to feel more stable. You’d prefer to have a diverse crop of income ready for the first of next month.
But no matter your urgency building a craft takes time. So much of the first stages of the work are learning to look, dreaming and designing, and practising on a smaller scale than will feel satisfying.
No matter the scale of the current drought, the process has not changed. Things grow as fast as they grow. However we might all prefer it to be otherwise.