Practicing Patience Without Becoming a Patient

Reader Contribution by Blythe Pelham
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Warning: Homophone humor ahead. They say, “Patience is a virtue.” My response to that has always been, “Patients are for hospitals!” While I may appear to be a very patient huming on the outside, inside I’m always wanting to speed up time until I can do the next thing I’d rather be doing. Early spring, in particular, is one of those hurry up and wait times for me.

One trick that I’ve stumbled upon to help pass the time is to fill it with activities that help me inch toward my future goals while still feeling somewhat productive in the moment. I have no trouble making time for artwork but adding pieces that will end up in a garden project helps me feel connected to nature more quickly. Cooking and testing recipes for my cookbook is productive but starting seeds for things that will end up in a dish created from one of those recipes at the same time feels much richer.

A more directly related garden activity is easing my body from its wintertime slowness into the 8+ hours I’ll soon be spending outdoors. I can do this by tackling big chores in smaller bits each day when weather permits. One such chore is the removal of over-abundant of wild onions (Allium canadense) from various beds in my garden.

In just one hour on a cool spring day, I was able to fill a bag with those pesky onions (which are edible if one so wishes). I prefer to remove by digging rather than use a non-organic method such as spraying pesticides. I was also able to visit with our outdoor cats while cleaning up a portion of my sweetgrass bed. While I wasn’t expending a lot of energy or hard manual labor, I was getting my body used to many of the movements and postures I’ll be using on those longer days outdoors.

This chore takes a little patience but very few tools as I work free the small bunches of bulbs. As pictured, I use a large shovel, a smaller hand spade, a kneepad, and a reused bag for the pickings. I also grab a bucket of arborist chips from my pile so that I can cover up the area afterward—this makes the worked area look a little nicer and adds an extra layer of protection for any earthworms I’ve awakened. These favored hard-workers tend to be much more lethargic in the cold and I want to make sure to keep them happy.

I admit that I’m hard on tools because I expect them to dig in right alongside me with heavy duty effort. The hand spade pictured in the photo is not one of my better tools and frankly is on its last legs because my patience urges me to rush rather than spend time loosening the ground first. My favorite spade is more like this one. I’ve found the flatter spades to be much less sturdy unless working in pre-loosened soil. Similarly, kneeling pads are not all created equal. The one in the photo is just one of several that I use.

Whatever tools you use, I have no doubt that you can find productive steps to fill your time as you wish Spring forward. I know there’s no reason while I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting for my daffodils, tulips, and garlic (the cherished members of my bulb family) to progress to their pronouncement of Spring that I can’t move some of the peskier members out of my garden.

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online atHumings andBeing Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWSposts here.


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