New Year! New me?

I suspect that the origin of New Years resolutions was someone lifting their pounding head up and declaring ‘I am never drinking again’. No doubt met with groans of agreement from similarly afflicted friends.

We all know how long that one lasts.

Our  annual holiday of resolving to be a better, more productive person is perfect for procrastinators and perfectionists. (I fall into both of these categories) It’s a specific point to start, which if missed means that you may as well wait until it comes around again, and a metaphorical clean slate, on which last years failures disappear like swiping back on our etch-a-sketch.

I have for the last three years sat down and written a gratitude list and a goal list. I’m grateful for my family, my job etc. And while I am grateful for my family I haven’t sat down and thought about why. And I don’t think just writing a list causes us to feel the gratitude that is supposed to be so good for our mental health.

Do New Years Resolutions help us? or do they just absolve us throughout the year until our disappointment that we haven’t achieved our goals can be cushioned by champagne and optimism for the next years list.

Perhaps we should focus more of our energy on what we wish to leave behind, letting go of things that weigh us down and facing up to the things that hold us back. Instead of thinking about it as a clean slate, because lets face it unless you go into FBI protection you will never get one, maybe New Year should be stepping back from the canvas to get perspective.

So many of our goals or  ambitions in life are quite arbitrary, inherited from the world around us while holding little meaning to us personally. I don’t think anyone actually thinks about their weight unless it’s noticeably difficult to heave themselves off their couch and if we had the time we would have lived our lives to the fullest last year. I’m not even sure what amount ‘the fullest’ constitutes.

So hang the resolutions to be a better person and do the things I ought to do. This year my resolutions are to do the things I want to do. I’m taking up ballet and pottery and learning about wine.


Spring and all that goes with it

Spring is officially here, in calendar as well as weather, and all I want is to sit in the garden and wait for the sweet peas to open. My grandmother had her hundreth birthday a few weeks ago and I planted them everywhere in the hope they would be in full bloom for our birthday picnic. If I had kept a garden journal last year I would have known that sweet peas won’t flower here before September.

I rushed to the instant bedding nursary and got two trays of primulas 50% off because they were in full flower and about to go over. They looked lovely and the sweet peas are saved for me.

I’m pleased to say that despite drifting off my blog I’ve been keeping my garden journal faithfully, with the exception of a few weeks here and there, and have had lots to write in it. There is so much to share but that will have to keep for another day.

For now let me just say that if this is the start of the gardening year I’m armed with renewed good intentions and barrowloads of enthusiasm. Vegetable seeds have arried, I have trees to plant for arbour week and I made dinner today with my own veg. An apple nut salad with lettuce and radishes straight out the beds; a spring veg risotto with mint snipped just outside the kitchen door; and a chickpea stew with swiss chard as fresh as you can get it.

It’s not even half the meal, still it feels marvelously self-sufficient.

To spring, and a great gardening year to come!

New Year, New Start

e. e. cummings wrote, ‘in time’s a noble mercy of proprtion/ with generosities beyond believing’. One of these generosities is the New Year. Every year is another chance to start over, a renewal of hopes, dreams, good intentions and a reminder that life is a work in progress.

Gardens too are very forgiving in this way. Very few of our disasters will be noticable in a few years. You can plant over, redesign, take grass out, put grass back; even trees can be moved, although of course this should be avoided if possible. It is better to plonk something enthusiastcally in the wrong place and have to move it in the middle of summer than to sit around trying to decide until the poor thing expires in it’s pot. I’ve definitely killed more plants the latter way.

There may be gardeners who plan everything meticulously with beautiful water-coloured drawings (or computer generated 3D reditions) showing what it will look like and where each tree, shrub and annual will go. Some gardeners probably make it up as the go along. I suspect most of us are a combination of the two. I’m about half and half, I plan out for a bit and then think ‘What the hell, better get going or I’ll never start.’ This goes against all advice but I firmly believe it’s better to garden badly than not to garden at all.

And of course it’s better to attempt to revive your blog and end up fizzling out in May than to give it up entirely. Especially if your mum likes to sigh sometimes and say, ‘I wish you’d go back to your blog’.

So whatever type of gardener you are, or if gardening is not your thing but you want to paint, write, build  eco-pods, learn piano or take up cricket, just get out there and do it. Don’t worry that you might not stick to it, if you don’t you can try again next year. In the meantime here’s some good life advice from someone who isn’t me and I hope to still be around next year.


Pula!!! (it means rain)

Today we’ve had the first rains of the season!!! apart from last Saturday which doesn’t count because I was on a boat and it made everything cold and miserable and it didn’t even rain much in Sandton.

My sisters and I, growing up in Botswana where water is precious and rain is a blessing, would always go outside and dance in the first rains. This evening I ran around filling containers with the water coming down the drain pipes which is a kind of dance.

Time to get moving

We’ve had a couple of warm springish days and the scent is starting to brew in the breeze as it drifts past. All this reminds me that time is ticking and there’s not much left before the real work must begin. I’ve been drifting about, umming and ahing but there are still jobs to do before spring gets here and, more importantly, plans to be made.