I should have been a Boy Scout. I would have loved all that camping, tying knots and doing good. My mum was a guide leader, so I guess some of that must have rubbed off on me. I am a big fan of preparing for EVERY eventuality. Just look in the boot of my car and you will find almost everything you would need to survive if, for some unknown reason, society sudden collapsed tomorrow.
Recently I have been planning a lot. The cold weather this week has limited my options somewhat in the garden. There is always something that needs to be done, but when the frosts are so hard and prolonged not everything can be done. On most days it has taken until the early afternoon to warm up at all so my work outside has been restricted to mainly tidying up jobs and moving things around. There are only so many times you can turn a compost heap before it becomes a compulsive disorder.
I decided to spend some of the colder mornings tucked up in my cosy shed organising and laying plans for the year. The tools were cleaned, lawnmower serviced and hedge cutters sharpened. The forgotten corners were cleared and swept and all the detritus collected from the year was reorganised or recycled.
I find January can be the month of spreadsheets. Once the arduous task of submitting the tax return for the year is complete, I find them a great way of organising all my other tasks. My plans for the veg garden quickly become more detailed when I can make calculations of expected yield, space required, number of plants needed and even approximate sowing dates. Over a few hours it evolves from a haphazard and chaotic experience into a precisely timed exercise where I am aware of exactly what is meant to be happening, where, when and why.
But as with all good plans we need to accommodate two vital aspects; flexibility and contingency. Things will never be exactly the same from year to year. Last frost dates can vary by several weeks and sowing dates will need to be adjusted accordingly. Unpredictable rainfall and temperatures in the spring can be protected against, but we can never have a 100% guarantee when it comes to germination. Some of our plants will never make it to adulthood to fulfil their destiny, so we must use our previous experiences to try and predict the range of possible outcomes, and have a course of action suitable for each.
There are always things that will be beyond our control. Things will occur which are completely beyond our abilities to predict or protect against. It is at these times we must surrender to the chaotic nature of the world and accept that shit happens, sometimes.