put-ter (verb): Occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant manner, doing a number of small tasks.
Spending time in the garden (as I have this week) brings to mind my dad and his favourite garden pastime – puttering. One of the myriad life lessons that he managed to impart was that goal-setting (in life and in the garden) is fundamentally at odds with enjoyment. He encouraged me to “just get out there” and do something. Even one tiny thing would be better than nothing. He was convinced that once a person was in the garden and the sights and sounds and smells took over, being in the garden would take on a life of its own and you’d do one more thing… and so on… and so on. I have to admit it’s much, much more pleasurable than the alternative.
I have, however, set many a goal in my day – and garden goals count among these. One particularly ambitious year, I recall, Glenn was in Toronto on business (big surprise…), Chloe was still young enough to nap and I made it my goal to prune all of our fruit trees (14 at that time!) that week as a surprise for Glenn. I made it to the last tree – a massive, ancient old apple tree with five varieties grafted on it – before the weeklong fatigue caught up to me. I fell out of the tree, bruising my back on the way down. My mom and dad came the next day to help entertain Chloe and to keep me from finishing the tree, I’m sure. You can’t really blame them for trying. I did finish the tree AND picked up and bundled all the branches before Glenn came home. That might have heralded the end of the big goal era though.
That was over a decade ago now and thinking about it today gives me a jolt. Realizing he was gone just a few short years after that is a surreal thought and makes me appreciate all over again the great gift he was. I was so blessed to have had him as a dad. I would do almost anything to spend one more day puttering in the garden with him. And I guess that’s the master lesson in all of his puttering wisdom – LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Enjoy the people around you. They are a gift and, sadly, will not always be with us. Until next time, I will be puttering in my garden. That is if the rain will bugger off again. Cheers, s. xo
p.s. If he was still here, I would ask him to make this for me… and he would.