Sit a Spell. It’s Not as Easy as You Think.

I seldom sit in my garden. There are too many distractions. I have spots where I like to sit, but as soon as I plop my weary ass down, I see a stray weed.

I’m not the only one distracted.

Evelyn Hadden fought back. Rather than be dragged down with garden chores, she found a clever way to stay focused on the thrill, while working in hers.

I resolve to sit a spell and enjoy my own garden.

I always liked to visit my neighbors, Mary and Paul McKinney, when I lived near Fletcher, NC. They would say, “Come sit a spell.” We’d sit on their screened back porch, looking out at a half-acre of blueberry bushes, an acre of strawberries and a mess of work. We’d talk for an hour or more, then I would announce it was time to go. They’d say, “Don’t be in such a hurry.” The McKinneys were hard-working people.

They could sit a spell.

I come from a long line of folks who seldom sat—inside or out. At least, not until it was time for a cocktail. I was drinking before I was gardening. Dad gave me rare, fatherly advice on my first night with a driver’s license, age 16. He handed me the keys to his 1967 dark blue Pontiac Le Mans and said, “Son, don’t drink too much and drive too fast.” I am still trying to process what that meant.

There was a hammock hung from a pergola, near where we’d gather years later. It was little more than a photo prop. “Look! We can relax!” It was rare that anyone, besides children, got in the hammock. A hammock is perfect for a summer nap. I like a good nap. The rest of my family considered this a genetic flaw.

I love sitting in other gardens. A cocktail or a glass of wine combined with small talk and tall flowers is still a pleasure. I sometimes get itchy and want to jump up and wander around. I’ve learned to control my urges. My mother didn’t teach me how to relax, but she taught me good manners. She also showed me how to iron a dress shirt and recognize a well-loved garden.

It’s easy to tell when a garden is loved. Happy gardeners are married to their gardens, whether they are stylish layouts or a cluttered hodgepodge. Happy gardens can be packed with rare species or loaded with ordinary plants. A blue gentian will pull me off my seat; so will a well-tended row of okra. Gardening is a fitful, loving relationship with burdensome obligations. The hateful don’t garden.

I have M.S. I get along OK, but I don’t do heat very well. I start to drag a little by noon, especially whenever I read one more word about the orange fascist. I’m also 65. I get tired.

I’m learning to sit a spell.

If all goes well, my brain comes unhinged from my conscious awareness.

When I snap out of it, I start thinking about a nap.

Posted by

Allen Bush
on July 13, 2016 at 8:12 am, in the category Real Gardens, What’s Happening.

Comment List

  • Tom Fischer 02 / 08 / 2016

    Lovely piece, Allen. I find it appalling that so few men know how to iron a shirt. My grandmother taught me,

  • Brooke 07 / 08 / 2016

    Such a pleasure to read. Good reminder, too, to enjoy what we gardeners have created and to forgo perfection. Unless, of course, plants are drooping from lack of water, or you spot an evil porcelain berry fine taking over the aronia, etc. — almost impossible to resist doing something!

  • Joey Blake 07 / 09 / 2016

    Allen, How I wish I didn’t understand. I set out to sit and read awhile,and before I have the first few pages read, I have some sort of garden tool or weeds in my hand. Maybe, one of these days, I will be able to “sit a spell.” Until then, I have some watering to do.

  • jon polvado 01 / 10 / 2016

    Easy to do, just hard to accomplish.

  • Paul Schneider 09 / 10 / 2016

    Allen, I have to work hard at sitting quietly in the garden but having a glass of wine helps to keep me in one spot for a spell. I find it to be a good time to think about potential projects for the next day. My maternal grandfather who lost his wife before I was born taught me the rudiments of sewing & cooking. He said you will never know when you may have to do one or the other by yourself. Both skills have served me well over the years. Here’s to “sitting a spell”!

  • Marte 04 / 11 / 2016

    I so relate to this! I have six benches throughout my garden and rarely sit down on any of them! However, most evenings at cocktail hour find me and my husband in the gazebo, sitting and enjoying a drink. I really enjoy your posts.

  • Jennifer Strout 09 / 11 / 2016

    I find the rhythmic nature of your writing much like the ebbs and flows of gardening: as there are both growth and setbacks, life and decay. Thank you for both your frankness and humor. Another’s insights are so often useful for self-reflection, as your piece was as much an illumination on gardening as it was on pruning the mind.

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