My life this spring has been hectic and stressful. It seems the weeks are filled with doctor appointments, town meetings, parties, get-togethers with friends, and, most importantly helping to care for my twin grandbabies. Of course, much of this activity is enjoyable except, of course, the doctor appointments; however, even pleasurable activity can be tiring when you are 68 years old and feel like you fall behind a bit each week in your obligations.
Spring began slowly this year, with snow on the ground later than normal, chill winds, and raw temperatures in early April. By the time it felt warm enough to go out and rake out the leaf mulch, the perennials were already beginning to grow up through the mulch. I always make an effort to spend two or three days raking out the gardens and picking up windblown branches; some years this is possible, and other years, such as this one, I find myself outside at odd hours, raking out sections of gardens, and never quite catching up to the growing plants. I am also a naturalist, so I am careful to let the tiny spring flowers and the dandelions scattered across the lawn grow to maturity before the first good mowing of the lawn.
The past couple of weeks my grandbabies were sick, so my days were more often filled with holding feverish little ones in my arms than they were with tending my gardens. Somehow, though, when you are a haphazard gardener like me, you realize that nature tends to take care of itself. It always amazes me how these tiny little sprouts can push up through a mass of leaf mulch, to drink in the gentle rain and sunlight, and grow into the flowers they were meant to be. Somehow, the weather this April was perfect for bleeding hearts. Outside my back porch, my garden is filled with these beautiful plants, which multiply and grow more lovely each year. The Lily-of-the-Valley are preparing to bloom. In my mostly ignored round garden by the bird feeder, the Solomon’s Seal, which I thought was gone last year, is growing and budding out in thick patches. The hardy ferns are taking their place around the pond and the front porch.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, and here I sit, on my quiet Sunday morning, writing at the computer instead of working outside. I am thinking of the side yard which needs a total refurbish to complement the beautiful picket fence my husband put in last year. Instead, I spent my Saturday at a large family party for the twins’ first birthday — what a wonderful day, filled with family and friends, and lots of babies and toddlers to hug. I certainly wouldn’t have traded this special celebration for anything.
So much of life is a trade-off — we alone can decide the most significant use of our time. For me, family and friends always come first — no doubt, no exceptions!! However, the multitude of other choices as to how I spend my days calls for more careful thought. At this age, my energy is much more limited than when I was younger, and often, even though I would love to cram my days with all of the activities that are important to me, I must choose between them. Do I do the grocery shopping, or clean the house, or work on my historic preservation letter? Do I relax with a book, write, finish up the paperwork that lies in wait on my desk? Do I spend time in the gardens, listening to birdsong and feeling my heart lift with each new tiny plant peeking through the ground?
This is the one drawback of aging — how do we choose our everyday activities when the choices are so numerous and inviting, and time and energy are limited. I’m thinking, though, that grocery shopping is probably the best choice to make this morning, or we will not be eating this week!!!