I took last week off work, on fairly short notice, because I was becoming increasingly distractable, a sure sign that I need to take some time. One of the things I’ve learned in the year of pandemic is that if I push off taking a break, when I eventually do take the break, it isn’t enough. So I’m trying to do better by myself this year.
I worked on my Backyard Habitat project nearly non-stop, heading out to the yard even before coffee some mornings. I finished digging out and placing a wood chip path in our backyard. I moved existing plants and planted new ones. I scattered wildflower seeds over a meadow-to-be. I removed cedar chips maybe six inches deep across the backyard, and dug in soil where the yard was too far out of level. I repaired and extended the drip irrigation in our front yard. I dug up a 10’x10’ piece of carpet (!!) that the previous owner had buried as a weed barrier. I made several trips to local nurseries, including my first (and second) to Bosky Dell Natives, a native plant nursery about 20 miles out of town.
I threw myself at it completely. Every day, I went into the yard and exhausted myself, and then went back for more as soon as I had some rest and water. Hands in the dirt, watching bees digging their own holes in the soil, listening to the scrub jay’s babies yelling for food, seeing a new bloom on something I planted two weeks earlier. At the end of the day, I came in for dinner sweating, dirt smeared on my face and running off my hands as I washed them. In the evening, unable to be outside, I edited my garden plans on graph paper, erasing this, moving that, adding something new over there.
I see myself as a fundamentally lazy person, especially when it comes to physical work. But this was magnificent. I thought I needed a break from work. But more than that, what I needed, what I was clearly longing for, was to be outside, doing something physical and productive, creating this space and pouring myself into it.
I think this might be the best vacation I have ever taken. 🌱