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Learning Patience

Jeff Linamen

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patience2One of the hardest things in life is waiting.

As children it seemed like we had to wait for absolutely everything– from birthdays, Christmas, vacation… even sometimes just to go outside. We counted down the weeks, days or minutes until that magical moment finally arrived. Of course, we drove everyone nuts in the process.

When we don’t learn patience as children, it’s even harder to practice in our adult lives.

Continuing from my post yesterday about our house, there is a lot to learn about patience here. First, it’s really a good rule of thumb to live in a home for a while before you make any major decisions. Rush a project and you may not end up with what you really need in the long run. Renovation takes time. Time requires patience.

To be perfectly honest, it probably took me ten years here before I didn’t feel the desperate need to spend every possible free minute working on the yard and the house. It became my excuse for everything. In the meantime, the rest of life gets ignored, friends are put on hold and the obsession gets out of control. Sooner or later you learn that it doesn’t all have to be done now. Projects will wait. They’ll always be there when you come back to them.

Looking down on part of the figure eight, 2005.

Looking down on part of the figure eight, 2005.

We have a figure eight sidewalk on the east side of our house that the first time we saw it,  screamed to be planted as a formal garden. Some random tulips and extremely invasive Trumpet Vine was all that was really growing there; and to one side, old overgrown shrubs. I envisioned what I wanted to do there early on but had to wait until I knew I had time to complete the project. I think I may have even started to transplant some of the old shrubs, previously, but I didn’t get too far.

Prepping to plant, 2006.

Prepping to plant, 2006.

Finally in 2006, I was determined to get the job done. I prepped the area and shopped for plants, ultimately deciding to do the sculpted hedge out of Boxwoods.  I found a single,  good-sized plant costs $35-50 each, a medium size was around $25 but I settled for the young smaller plants for about $5 each. I needed 75 to 100!

I’d just have to be patient and wait for them to grow.

Part of the broken branches from the Ginko tree on top of the figure eight, 2006.

Part of the broken branches from the Ginko tree on top of the figure eight, 2006.

I got the plants and spent a lot of time doing the final prep of the area.

No sooner than I started planting, we had a massive wind and hail storm that among other things, brought down nearly a quarter of the branches from our 100 year old Ginkgo tree.

Where did the largest branch fall? Right on the figure eight! The storm was so bad, many neighboring houses and businesses had to have new roofs and many area trees were down.

I couldn’t believe it!

Not only did this set me back another week, now we were afraid we might loose our enormous Ginkgo tree that is as tall as our house and shades much of the side yard.

Happily, after careful, professional pruning and clean up, it survived. I went on with my project and managed to get it planted before Fall.

Figure eight, one year after planting. (2007)

Figure eight, one year after planting. (2007)

patienceEvery Spring since then, I’ve hoped it would finally be the year that everything would finally have grown enough to fulfill my original vision. Over time, some plants died and were replaced, lots and lots of weeding has gone on and I’ve continued to add and subtract plants that surround the figure eight trying to reach my original goal. The Boxwoods were so small when I planted them, it was a few years before I could do any real pruning and shaping at all.

It’s required a lot patience–eight years of waiting, to be exact– but finally I have the basic look I had hoped to achieve when I first started.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! I was pretty patient with it too. Anxious, maybe– but pretty patient. Once it was planted I knew it was mostly out of my hands and I had no choice but to wait. Plus, watching it grow and slowly sculpting it has given me a sense of achievement I’m not sure I would have had if we had spent a fortune buy full grown shrubs and not had to wait as long.

The figure eight at 321 Division Street, 2014.

The figure eight at 321 Division Street, 2014.

I use this as an example of patience because today, as humans, we are so programmed to want everything now. No one is willing to wait for the right job, partner or situation to come into our lives and know it is right.  In the process, lots of quick, bad decisions are made, lots of money is wasted and relationships, without the test of time, fail to meet our original expectations. Some people never learn and repeat the process over and over again their entire lives.

All any of us really need is a little patience.


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