Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making Inroads

All it took was a few sunny days and the next door neighbours were out with the lawn mowers and the hedge clippers.

Not wanting to let the side down and acting the certain knowledge that the good weather wouldn’t last, I hauled our mower out of the shed.

Had Joe been around, he might have laid bets on who would finish the mowing first.

The man on the left of us was sporting a pair of crutches, so I didn’t fancy his chances. His wife took on the job. She had a head start of about fifteen minutes. She also had a much smaller lawn to mow, and was cheered on by her husband, her son and another man. Quite why the son and the other man couldn’t have done the job, I don’t know. The husband and his crutches took a slow walk around the edge of the lawn with a pair of long handled edge clippers.

The man on the right had an electric mower – one of those mowers that left neat lines up and down the grass. He took his time. He is a stickler for order. I remember years ago he had his daughter working in the garden putting in plants. She had almost finished when he handed her a ruler and told her to take them out and start all over because the plants were not equally spaced out.

The man on the right and I started about the same time – he with his electric mower and I with our non-electrical cylinder job. Whoever had been the last to use it – I suspect it was me – didn’t think about cleaning it up afterwards. Last year’s grass and grime had to be scraped away before I could begin. This being the first sunny day, in early spring, the grass wasn’t its usual knee high state. It didn’t take long to zip up and down the lawn. I didn’t have any long handled clippers to tidy up the edges.

I came a respectful third – my neighbours amazed that I had actually participated in any way.

Later on in the afternoon I settled down to a cup of tea and a spot of newspaper reading. It is not just the gardeners that the sun brings out, but the articles written by the gardeners. I know that some papers, like the Sunday Post, which some consider not to be a real paper, always have a gardener's article, but I never usually read them as they talk about plants that I don’t have, and pruning that I don’t do and compost heaps that I think about investing in but talk myself out of as I wouldn’t really know what to do with compost if I made it.

The article ended with tips. One of them I couldn’t do if I tried. The writer suggested that if the job that needed to be done was a really big task – “aim to do a set fraction of it, such as, clip 50% of the front hedge". Now, I couldn’t do that. I can’t mow half my lawn, or weed half my border, or clear half the patio. It’s all or nothing – most usually nothing. Half? Please show me a gardener, or any human being that can leave anything half done!

The final tip was more to my liking. It involved setting a timer and not going beyond it. The only timer is on the cooker, so I bought a cheap one from the supermarket. I set the timer for an hour and set about rescuing the rhubarb. I confess it was very big job and after an hour I was nowhere near done with that bit of the garden but my hour was up so I downed tools and made a cup of tea just like the article suggested.

I have since done a couple more hours. The rhubarb is stretching out luxuriously without having to fight off the dandelions and thistles. The patio has been de-mossed and the back lawn has been mowed. The sunny days are not set to last so I don’t expect to do much more.

The timer has been a great idea. I don’t start off overwhelmed, thinking about the size of the job. It is challenging to step away with something not finished at the end of the hour – but little by little I am making inroads.

I am thinking that I need to apply the timer strategy to inside the house! I have a tendency to go over board when I get into the housework groove.

“Little by little making inroads” is certainly the way to make changes in my faith walk. I might have mind-blowing revelation that pushes me to my knees on occasion, but working out what that looks like in everyday life is little by little. I might look at where I am in life and where I need to be and it seems that getting there is impossible. I think in terms of big changes over night when what is required is lots of little changes over days, weeks, months and years.

Little by little I am making inroads.

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