I have been feeling nostalgic for the year of gardening, thinking back on all I did this year. Now that Winter Solstice is behind us and it’s the eve of Christmas Eve, I am looking at a sunny, green yard, still blooming roses and pansies, sweet peas branching across the ground waiting to be staked and my Christmas garlands and wreaths drying out.

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Sunny Southern California offers no rest for the gardener in the winter. July and August are my resting months.

While I haven’t been able to write much this fall, I still found time to garden. Ten minutes, thirty minutes here and there, running outside at 5 p.m. in the fading light to plant seeds or bulbs. It all got done–my ritual fall plantings of sweet peas, pansies and bulbs. Then the vegetables.

My sweet peas are climbing across the ground (never had time to make bamboo trellises yet), my winter vegetable garden has lots and lots of edible pea plants — wow, did I plant a lot of peas this year. There’s kale and arugula and one petite cauliflower.

The bulbs my six-year-old and I planted one afternoon are sprouting. My ugly hill is still ugly but has moved out of the “horrible to look at” category. I feel like I’ve planted a million perennials on that thing.  My chicken garden is not planted but the potted nursery plants sit ready for a free day when the ground dries out and I have time to dig. Two more roses sit in pots ready to plant on my arbor.

I can’t believe I still did all that–the things I wait for all summer long, that take fifteen minutes now in the yard instead of a day. You have to be focused when you don’t have time. I think of my sister who planted one side of my front yard for me one day when my children were babies. I had to go somewhere for an hour, and I’d sat the pots all around the fountain where I wanted them planted.

“I’ll do it later,” I said, my voice trailing off because I really had no idea how I would do it.

When I came home, she’d done it all. Like some super-human sprite, she’d planted my entire front yard (well, almost). I have to muster that “inner sister” a lot lately when I am feeling distracted. “What would she do?” I ask myself. “How would she do it?”

Then I pull myself together and do it. I think of her speed and single-minded action.

I wish I had more time, but I suppose everyone feels that way this time of year. We all need our inner-sister or whoever inspires us to get things done. However, as a writer, I tend to dwell on things. Like this blog, which I’ve been thinking of for days. Perhaps I thought of my sister planting my yard because she is not coming for Christmas this year and I will miss the chaos and her ability to cook a giant dinner in the midst of all that Christmas noise and exhaustion as easily and efficiently as she landscaped my yard.

So I am baking a lot, looking out at the sunshine today, thinking of January when I vow to spend a day in my garden pruning my roses and preparing them for spring, willing myself to be efficient and single-minded and enjoy it all.

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