The winter sun provides not only bright clear skies but pockets of warmth within the garden. In these microclimates the resident plants are starting to dip their toes into the promise of spring, with buds swelling and even early flowers appearing. The garden is reawakening with the promise of the warmer months to come. This is a risky strategy particularly for the early fruit blossoms on the cherry plums. Last year the dice did not roll in their favour with ice and snow coinciding with the full floral glory and a subsequent absence of summer fruit. The apples, however, with their slightly slower start to the spring hit every optimum weather condition and the humans and wildlife are still enjoying the remains of the fruit bounty that ensued.
Today as I marvel at the first crocus buds, delight in the snowdrops and generally start to get my itchy feet to be back with the soil, I too feel like it is a new awakening. Over the last couple of years to borrow Rhett Butler’s well-worn phrase – I couldn’t give a damn. In actual fact I didn’t have the energy or interest to do anything, but the garden in particular seemed to overwhelm me. Instead of offering a relaxation or respite from the strain of a highly demanding job, squeezing time in to “do stuff” was just something else I had to cram into my week.
Last October on a boat between Rhodes and Lindos, with nothing to do but look at the beautiful scenery I finally allowed myself to admit I just couldn’t do it all anymore, I was exhausted, totally and utterly exhausted and I wanted everything to stop, I needed to stop and take a step back and regain me. I initially planned to resign, indeed I did resign, but my company asked for the opportunity to find an alternative solution which is how I now find myself in the very fortunate position of working part-time from home.
That said it has been hard, as someone so used to just doing stuff and wanting to make sure projects are supported, having to say no has been a big part of my learning curve over the last few months. Part of my problem was that I always try to find a way to accommodate people. Looking back all that happens is you end up always being the one who rearranges everything and people just expect it, not meaning to but valuing your time less. It has not just been a learning curve for me but also my colleagues when they realise that I really do only work 2.5 days a week and that accommodating me has been replaced by pragmatic but firm me.
What is important is also changing, its not that I am not ambitious that is just part of who I am, but how I channel those ambitions is changing. To be honest if I had really cared significantly about titles and kudos there were many different paths I could have chosen for my career but the reality is my toes are happy in the Kentish soil and I have routinely resisted any attempts to lure me to more senior roles that would have required substantive relocation.
So, for the first time in a long while I find myself planning and plotting for my garden. The plants that did not survive last years weather extremes are now opportunities not something that needed to be dealt with (which given they are still dead in the garden, I didn’t deal with because I couldn’t previously be bothered). There are the beginnings of plans to extend the veg patch and to get a small greenhouse (it had never seemed right before but now, now I have time and will actually use it). A happy afternoon was spent with the cat at my feet as I pruned the roses, taking my time, enjoying the winter warmth.
So as the garden reawakens after its winter sleep, this year I am reawakening too.