I must go down to the store again, to the lovely gardening store,
And all I ask is a tall tree, and a flat of plants galore,
And a wind chime, and a windsock, and a white narcissus,
And a green thumb, and a rose bush that will please the missus.
I must go down to the store again, for the call of the growing green
Is the weed's clutch, and a yard full of stuff you've never seen;
All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray of the RoundUp, and the crabgrass dying.
I must go down to the store again, for the vagrant gypsy's life
Is a soft dream that was long gone when I bought a house with my wife.
And all I ask is a spool of yarn to block the cats from the clover,
And a long vacation in someone else's garden when spring is over.
For those of you who don't know the incomparable John Masefield, this poem is a frank takeoff on his wonderful "Sea Fever"...I have loved that poem for years...and just to "edumacate" you this day, if you've never seen it, here 'tis...
Sea Fever by John Masefield
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
And so--what is the threnody of thought which the smell of today's new air has set off in my head? Well--here's the process (and, of course, also the product...)
Masefield was a wanderer, and he himself did "sail before the mast" for a great portion of his young adulthood. This poem is about looking back from the elderly man in a suit that he became to the freedom of his youth, dreaming of once again "getting away from it all", whereas my take-off has more of a resonance of "and 'tis meself that's in it". I used to sail, yes, but I never had the yearning for it that his poem indicates, whereas I did have the desire and the need to create a home for myself and my beloved, a home with a yard and a garden and all the constant backbreaking work entailed in keeping them both.
And I, too, now, have reached a different state of life. I don't have the energy to do the 24/7 kind of caretaking demanded by house and yard, and I am now contemplating how to manage and grow from the required changes.
Last year, I didn't have any spoons all spring, thanks to our long, cold, wet winter, and there was no gardening. This year, I am beginning the yard-thing, the garden-thing, by doing a measured, set amount of lands'keeping on a regular schedule, and that is the thought that prods my witchy musings today.
I am doing it this way, even though my mind and heart have just as virulent a case of spring fever as they have ever had, because this is all I can do. I am facing up, frankly, to cycles of change, those I never thought I would experience or acknowledge. I have had to "cut my shirt to fit my cloth", as my Irish Gran would have said, because I have no choice. I love my garden. I love my house, and I love being in a place of order and beauty made with my own hands. But--things change.
Masefield's wandering sailor has devolved to the housewife and homemaker, and that is now devolving to the little old lady doing as much as she can, when she can. I am not happy to be unable to do all I used to be able to do...but I have decided that giving up entirely is not the answer, either. I need to modify my wishes and dreams so that I can achieve them, even if I am capable of dreaming bigger than I can do. And when I was typing this, I ran across, in the decades of fodder stored under the staircases in my head, an old quotation that I believe is going to be today's food for thought. Maybe if I remember this, I can go on with glad joy into the day I have, instead of longing fruitlessly for the day that is no longer mine. Edward Everett Hale, a Unitarian minister, once said:
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
And for today, that is my mantra. I will do what I can do and I will not regret that it is not all I used to be able to do. Because everything I can do is of my heart and of my soul, and for me, and for the Universe, that's enough.