In the wake of the recent cyber-attack, it is a time for many of us to take stock of the things left undone. For the Captains of Industry it means reviewing the software of their computer systems. Governments and Utilities worldwide have fallen foul of the malware, as have smaller Organisations too.
I have been meaning to update our computer software but haven’t got around to it. I have a pile of CD-Roms on the desk where they have been for months waiting for shelf space to be allocated, whilst I have photos in files waiting to be burned to yet more CD-roms! The thought of losing months of work on Blog posts sent me scurrying to download and back-up. Why is it that we need major or global events to kick us into action?
I don’t wish to trivialise the devastating effects of the Cyber attack by liking it to the more mundane day things of home and garden tasks but it has set me thinking. How often do we put off doing routine things, unglamorous jobs, boring tasks or costly maintenance? There are always things to do in the Garden. We often have to react rather than pre-empt, when it comes to pests and diseases. And many reach for the big guns of garden chemical warfare when prevention would have averted the attack. Perhaps it’s just me but the thought of turning out at night, to find (and dispose of) the army of slimy creatures chomping through precious vegetation, has little attraction. However when the devastation is viewed the next day, I kick myself for being so lazy! A few minutes spent each evening picking off slugs and snails can reduce their numbers and save the Hostas. Last night was mild and damp so I did go out, and sure enough there they were eating my poor little Hydrangea. I don’t use Slug pellets as I have pets. I don’t use them anyway as birds and hedgehogs eat the poorly slugs and snails and are then poisoned themselves. This year I will be trialling wool pellets.
A neighbour once asked me if I ever took ‘time to stop and stare’ as I always seemed to be so busy rushing about. I don’t remember what had given rise to her comment but I often think of it. The phrase comes from the poem by Welsh poet W H Davies (1871-1940)
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Perhaps it is all too easy to be rushing about, being busy and actually not getting stuff done. Too often plants get watered when they are showing signs of withering, roses get pruned when they lash out once too often, and perennials get staked when they have threaten to smother their neighbours! But how to get ahead is a challenge. If I took time to smell the Roses, I could walk around my garden and inspect my plants, admire their blooms, inhale their scent, look to the health and well-being of them as individuals. In my ideal gardening world, plants would get watered before they were desperate, shrubs pruned at the opportune moment, and staking would be done before stems collapsed in a heap. Pests and diseases would not come a serious problem because I would have spotted the signs before the outbreak.
I often wonder what it must be like trying to garden in a bigger plot than my own but then, I suppose, the odd plant death, overgrowth or infestation is not as obvious. Either that or I would have help in the garden, and they say two pairs of eyes are better than one. Garden notebooks and journals are only as good as they entries made in them. I do keep a notebook with lots of useful information in it but have yet to keep a daily record of my garden. My to-do list of gardening tasks is a running list somewhere on a spare page in my Diary. As one tasks gets ‘done’ it seems that two more are added!
However, things are looking up at Dovewood. Last Saturday we decided to pave what we call the Utility path. The path that leads to the Garden shed, Oil Tank and log store amongst other things. The gravel that has been there for the last 15 years has been a bugbear for nearly as long. Every time we need to go down it, it always seems to be when we have muddy boots! I had been given about 4 dozen old paving slabs – they were in good condition but no longer required. Unusually for us (!) the slabs had been here less than a month before we tackled the path. I have to admit that whenever I lay one here, I throw the text book method out. With heavy clay, and some gravel that inevitably gets trodden in over the years, it becomes as hard packed as any foundation level. I simply rake the surface, add a bit of sand to adjust the levels if necessary and lay the slab straight down. Job Done!
Old Tim struggles with my method as he has been taught to do things ‘properly’! But I say ‘it works’. The path and courtyard I laid 14 years ago by my method has survived a JCB (when we could get one in) being driven over them several times. A few slabs have cracked over time but that could have happened even with a ‘text-book’ path.
We got the utility path laid. It has rained and washed the slabs clean! (And watered the plants). So now we wonder why we hadn’t done it sooner. The tools were put away but I have yet to find a home for the stuff that used to dumped down there. Like-wise buckets and plant pots are still where I left them from the mega gardening day the week before. Am I lazy, dis-organized, too busy or just more laid back than I used to be? Or am I one of many people this week wondering why on earth didn’t I get on with the task crying out to be done?! Taking time to stop and stare is all well and good but sometimes, just sometimes we need to stop staring and got on with it!