Are You a Gardener?

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I’ve been trying to learn Spanish this year after a rousing beginning, and I’ve been simultaneously brushing up on my sign language which I found just as interesting as the first time when I learned it in college.

I also want to read a book that I had heard on the radio entitled “Maid” but I’m also currently reading a largess of a book (meaning its thick and heavy and 1,104 pages) called “Grant.” Since it is an actual book with paper pages it means that I have to sit in the kitchen where the light is just right, to read it comfortably. I love the book. It’s interesting. Since Christmas, I’ve made it to page 20.

The point here is that it’s already February into the new year and frankly, I haven’t made much progress in any of these areas.

The Spanish practice hasn’t gone much past Hola Amigo/Amiga! And other than hand gesturing an occasional sign privately in ahem… in the mirror I haven’t made much progress there either.

That’s just the tip of a single tree, actually just the tip of a single branch of a single tree in a vast forest of continuous improvement projects. A smackling of various other ambitions include things like using my time more productively, (Confession: I needlessly scrolled the Washington Post, NPR and Facebook all before sitting down to write this.), listening better (I wrote a hot air-filled comment on a subject I had questionable qualifications for on said Facebook.), networking with other businesses in our local Chamber of Commerce (I skipped the meeting this morning because I was reading the Washington Post), and trying to better anticipate problems before they arise. (This article? It’s overdue.)

Sometimes all of this aspiring becomes a bit of a messy blur and during my darkest time when I’m theoretically reviewing my internal progress reports, the results tell me I might be actually regressing rather than striving forward.

That’s the dirt in the potting soil: Sometimes it can be confusing to realize that the person I strive to be may not be the current person I am. In other words, I often think I’m already the better person when in reality, I’m humbly just at the beginning of a long and winding garden path.

But in a magical moment of transformation I have come to realize something: I will rarely, if ever, get the “award” to tell me I’ve become the master of the “thing.” There will never be the moment when I’m completely fluent in all ways and most certainly, there won’t be some outside group that christens me with the certificate I so strongly want.

In practical, real-world garden terms that means my garden may never arrive. There won’t ever be a Royal Horticultural Award committee giving me the distinction of “gardener.” It’s even possible (even quite likely) to have the most confusing designed plant-skittled garden and still be the most amazing gardener.

So a short-list of possibilities (and it only takes one) that may apply: If I have an uncanny knack to keep an African violet alive… I may be a gardener.

If I’ve ever cut the blooms of a fragrant Daphne just so I can enjoy the scent indoors, I may be a gardener.

If I’ve ever planted something which I have since long forgotten the name of and it’s still alive, I am a gardener.

If I have ever noticed that a plant in my garden has died, I am a gardener.

If I have ever thrown into the garbage a plant that I honestly tried to keep alive, I am a gardener.

If I have ever stopped to notice certain trees are in bloom I am well on my way to becoming a gardener.

If I suffer allergies in some form and blame it on certain plants outside, I am definitively a gardener.

If I have ever washed my hands and absent a drying towel rubbed them dry on my jeans, I am a gardener in the making.

If I have mispronounced a botanical name, sometimes for years, I am an advanced gardener.

If I have actually completed the “Master Gardener’s” program yet secretly keep that fact from my close friends because its become such a burden to know all the garden answers instantaneously, I’m still a gardener anyway.