chapter I had to write that I knew was going to be hard. Sadly, when I eventually started it was hard and I find it very easy to put it to one side and start (and finish)something else. Not a good habit I know but I have managed to convince myself its part of my creative process and that because it's at the back of my mind (actually playing on my mind!) I'm still working on the ideas. So my question is do other people suffer from this problem and if they do have they learnt any strategies for
dealing with it. Generally once I get going my attitude changes and I become more positive so something obviously happens in the mind once a start has been made.
Saturday 15/09 - my mums birthday- 86 today
Today I have a good example of making a start. One of my goals in my current development plan is to create a memorial garden for my first wife Jill. Immediately after she died in 1999 I spent 3 or 4 months building a water garden. It gave me a lot of comfort and the physical toiling under a hot sun helped me work through my grief.. Since I moved house I have felt guilty that I have not created a physical space for her. But it's one thing saying you are going to do something and another to do it. Anyway its a lovely sunny day and I have been in the garden chopping down trees. I decided to move one of our
benches into the woods.. We have 3 acres of woodland and apart from the paths it just runs wild.. As I was carrying it down to the woods I decided I'd like to put it in the middle somewhere and as I started looking the idea of the memorial garden came into my head again.. There is a sort of drainage channel through the middle with lots of reeds and in spring there is a swathe of forgetmenots.. which flowers in early May - the time Jill died... I know my daughters also share my delight in the forgetmenots so I decided that the naturalistic 'garden' just had to be there.. so rather than prevaricate any more I worked out a route
from the existing path, cleared the bigger logs and drove the tractor in to make a start on the pathway.. Standing back from the particularities of the situation I think my goal is to create something that I, and my children will value. I had a vision of what it will be like- pretty and natural like she was and surrounded by wild woodland but in the more open spaces where the light comes shining through and the wild flowers grow in spring. While my vision and enthusiasm was still in my head (and ignoring the other jobs I was in the middle of) I began creating a pathway towards achieving the vision.. I know its just a start, and
there will be a lot of hard work ahead, but it feels already as if I am a significant way towards my goal. I took some photos before I started so I can see the changes I make. I feel quite positive about it having made a start.
Knowing I had a busy day ahead of me I got up at 7am and went down to the woods and spent several hours laying out the pathway. It was laborious work cutting through fallen logs, lugging fallen trees to line the pathway and trying to dig through the chalky rubble to fill in some of the hollows. I fell over several times as my foot caught in the brambles and got stung by nettles. Altogether it was a sweaty exhausting process but I could see the progress I was making so that spurred me on. I could see that although I had a rough idea for the direction of the pathway and the detail was designed as I went in order to miss trees and stumps that I hadn't at first appreciated were there because they were overgrown. It made me feel bad when I realised that the 4' wide pathway was going to destroy a lot of plants in the middle part of the new pathway. After thinking about if for a while I decided that I would only use the lawn mower in the middle part and have a narrow pathway through the reeds and bracken. I recognised that this was a better solution.
I should have been doing other things but I spent a couple of hours in the woods. It was hard work filling in valleys and fissures in the path and there is a lot of this to do before I have anything like a proper footpath. When I'm walking in some out of the way place I often think of the people who must have made the path originally. Making paths for future generations of people to follow seems to me to be a special task in life and it can be used as a metaphor for leading others. Today my woodland work was inspected by my mother and father in law who are visiting us. They love walking and they could see what I was trying to do and they recognised it as a good thing. We talked about how gardeners don't just make things for themselves they are creating something that other people can enjoy in the future. My insight today was to do with design - now that I have done what I have done I can see much more the potential in what I'm doing. Its only after you have got someway into a project that this potential can be appreciated.
Well I think I have found a solution to my bumpy path problem. I went for a walk around the garden and behind some fir trees I found a pile of builders rubble which I had put there 4 years ago when we had a garage conversion done. The only snag is it's a long way to hump it down to the woods. So I have to convince myself the exercise will do me good. I spent a couple of hours humping the rubble down - altogether I made 4 trips with a full barrow.. fortunately its downhill and the last one I got a puncture and ended up having to pull the barrow. This is the slogging part of the process with little joy. It took me two hours to grade 2 meters so I can estimate that there is a couple of weeks work if I try to stick to my two hours a day. It was sunny though and paused to imagine several times what I could do when I start to create the woodland garden.. The results are good and I covered up the rubble with woodland soil so it looks fairly natural. Today's reflection is on the role of 'sustained slog' in trying to accomplish anything of significance. Once the initial enthusiasm of starting is over there is usually a lot of labour which is not very rewarding emotionally. I'm going to use John Cowan's idea of finding two hours a day to keep chipping away at the 'problem'. I probably won't make any more entries until I get to the next stage.