Last summer really took a toll on me. In all fairness, there was a lot of stuff I had to get done before winter set in, but the dense schedule was rough, to say the least. When the dust settled, and my winter’s rest began, I looked at my husband and very clearly stated that I never wanted to put myself through that again. To that end, we decided to concentrate our efforts, one indoor room, and one outdoor area in a twelve month period. This was to be in addition to critical repairs and food crops. It was reasonable, rational, and do-able. I guess I should have known that I’d therefore have trouble with it.
January first, a new year dawned, and my husband Shawn and I sat and had a discussion about our intended projects for the coming months. We decided on the living room and the front yard, both of which are still in a raw, unfinished state. This consensus did not last long. You see, the problem is the shed. It’s full. And I don’t mean can’t-buy-another-large-piece-of-equipment full, I mean can’t-get-a-toe-in-oh-my-god-is-that-door-gonna-shut full. There’s no way to work in there, and no way for me to get in and get tools out. I can’t even find my plant pots. That sucker is full. And you guessed it, we need everything that’s stored in there, and there are a few pieces of equipment we’re going to want to add to our collection. To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, we’re going to need a bigger shed. Now. “But my gardens!” My inner voice wailed. “My walkways, the front steps, the new porch lights!” But it’s no good. Needs must. And at least it will make the construction of the living room window seats a pleasure. I made my peace, maybe with less grace than I would hope, but I managed.
And then… I got sick. Really sick. I wound up dehydrated in the Emergency Room, actually. Good old fashioned Influenza, which didn’t do wonders for my asthma. At the same time, poor little four year old Jason got just as sick. My mother came and stayed with us for almost a week, and I simply don’t remember a few days of it. I have never been more sick in my whole adult life. And though I am very grateful for the modern drugs I took, I found myself wishing for my customary stockpile of herbs. I had some things, sure, it is just quite unlikely that I would run out of peppermint, licorice root, or chamomile, and I did manage to gather up and dry some red clover last summer. But boy was I wishing for some slippery elm bark for a throat raw from coughing, and mullein and lobelia, lemon balm for crying out loud, not to mention how much of this I could have forestalled with some elderberry syrup. And I’m still wishing for it, still coughing my brains out as I write this, thirteen days later. Still limping along on peppermint tea.
My thoughts are turning to my intended herb garden. “I mean, come one,” I rationalize to myself, “how hard would it be to put in a couple of elderberry bushes? Surely potted plans don’t count, right? I could do mint, and some lemon balm, and…” On and on like this. I bought twenty-five varieties of medicinal herb seeds this morning, and suddenly I went, “Woah.” What am I doing, I mean really, WHAT AM I DOING? Seduced by spring, it is the only phrase. I know the ground is still covered in snow, and the nights are still well below freezing, but it is SPRING darn it. The trees have started waking, and there is mud, warm, rich, gooey, glorious mud where the snow has been cleared away. It has even started its annual trek into the house to cover my floors. And the seed catalogs, oh, the seed catalogs, I… ahem, there I go again.
So now I’m torn. I really don’t want to let another year go by without putting some perennials in the ground. It almost killed me to leave the ground alone last year, and I know perfectly well that vegetables simply aren’t enough. There is a deep need within me to beautify my home and land. Not to mention to have those needed medicines on hand. But I promised myself, one outdoor project area only. I promised. So what to do? Truthfully, I cannot say. Agreements with myself should serve, and not stifle, right? And so on I struggle with where to draw the line. In the meantime, I find myself buying seeds, planning gardens, and preparing to start my herbs this weekend. As though I am somehow unconsciously dragging myself onward. I have spent so very many years dreaming of this garden, since even before I moved out of my parents’ house. I mean, really, we are measuring this in decades at this point people. Perhaps this year will only allow for a few herbs in pots, maybe a bed or two, but I do believe this dream will simply not wait another year. I will just have to take it slow, listen to myself, and keep my promise to not let it get overwhelming. But it is time to plant this love, and watch it grow.