I’ve always been something of a perfectionist apologist. Why not strive for perfection, I’ve thought. A little aspiration never hurt anyone, I’d say. And I still mostly stand by those words. But the problem with perfectionism, as anyone can tell you, is that the goal is so rarely reached. And at the risk of echoing too much self-helpy mumbo jumbo, I’d say that we end up failing to see the almost-perfect that we have while wishing for the more-perfect that we don’t.
This weekend, I wanted to dig my hands into dirt. I wanted to clear away leaves in a bit of land, I wanted a garden that I could tinker around in wearing an old fleece and a brush of dirt on my forehead like a badge of honor. I wanted Faye to have spot to get dirty in (and not the kind of dirty that comes from a slide being too close to the BQE). I wanted to walk a garden of my own, checking for signs of life: a crocus opened here; a snowbell quivering there.
I don’t have a garden. But I do have a mess of dirty pots that I never bothered to clean out last fall. And at the farmers’ market on Saturday there were pots of muscari—the stuff that grows like unwanted weeds in some people’s yards (though I’m certain I’ll die not knowing why a little burst of color in the early springtime would be unwelcome to anyone).
I paid $12 for three pots of something that’s free in other places.
(Thrift be damned.)
I dragged the table I use for a desk to the window. I leaned out as far as I could and stuck my spade into the soil in the pots on our wide window ledge. The soil was thick with the dried out roots of last year’s beauty. I used my pair of hand clippers to hack away at dried out stems of parlsey that I’d allowed to thicken and rot. I cleared away dried wisps of chives from around fresh sprouts that I hadn’t even noticed before. I did my best not to let too much dirt fly into the white curtains. (At this, I mostly failed.)
I pulled my potted bulbs out of their plastic pots and plopped them into pots I’d only barely cleaned. It wasn’t the gardening I really wanted to do. It was the gardening I could do. And for me, in those moments, it was pretty near perfect. Perfect enough.