Setting the Conditions, or, April in New England

Zen for blog

The seasonal panic is palpable around here. The need to spring clean gardens and get the cold crops planted before the onset of whatever may happen next takes on a frenetic air. We gardeners stand erect outside of our caves for the first time in months, only to bend over dirt patches to scratch out lettuces and peas. Today’s snow is evidence that spring is emerging slowly on the coast of Maine.

Although the plants are hesitant to come forth, the humans are flocking—to the woods, to the running trails, and yes, to the gardens. It’s impossible to wait for the perfect day to prep a garden. Is there such a thing as a perfect day? So we just get out there and do it. I gardened last week in a wool coat one day, a t-shirt the next and a raincoat the following day.

When I tune in closely I can hear the collective heartbeats and mind pulses of gardeners who are thinking out their veggie patch or perennial bed. I found a like-minded soul at at my community garden early yesterday. She was planting bush beans (April and 39 degrees F) as I wondered if they would make it to sunset. She said she didn’t care, that she would simply plant more. They were the only seeds she had in the house and wanted to get out into the dirt early in the morning.

When the seasonal craze grabs me too tight I try to simplify. Just like a baker has a chant…flour, salt, water, time, flour salt water, time, I cantillate…seed, soil, sun, water. To break down process into it’s parts is calming, healthy.

When writing the chant goes, sit the hell down and type, sit the hell down. As in gardening, my job (after getting into the chair) is to create the conditions where my characters thrive. Much like the seed-soil-sun-water for my plants, creating a healthy state for my characters and for my story to unfold is key. The power to set the conditions whether for plants or stories is intoxicating.

Time to put on my snow boots and sit the hell down.

What’s your chant?



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10 Responses to Setting the Conditions, or, April in New England

  1. Deb says:

    walk, stop, listen

  2. Lisa Blanchard says:

    It’s five o’clock somewhere

  3. Lisbeth Bochette says:

    Give me strength!

  4. Mary-Jane says:

    Move to a southern climate. Three seasons of crops and the living is easy.

  5. JoAnn says:

    This spring it’s:

    “eat less, move more”

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