There was a period in my life when I had more plans than time. I was on my game both in the house and the yard. I worked on projects because I wanted to, not because there was an arbitrary deadline chosen by someone who spent all their working hours thinking of ways to interfere with my life.
Eventually working eight hours a day outside took precedent over the things I wanted to accomplish from day to day. I fell into a rut. I came very close to mowing down the perennial bed by the driveway one afternoon in early summer. I didn't want to be reminded of what I left at work when I arrived home. If it weren't for sheer exhaustion and the very real possibility of a heat stroke, I probably would have done it. I got lazy.
Eight weeks ago that all came to a screeching halt when our store manager announced his decision to relocate seven of the twelve department managers in the store. When the final announcement was made, I have to say I was honestly excited to hear that I would be one of the ones being shifted to another part of the store. No longer in OSLG, there would be no ethical issue arising from the plans I had discussed with Todd on the front steps more than a year earlier.
For the past six weeks, I've spent my days inside where its 74 degrees year round selling lawnmowers, patio furniture, and garden trinkets made in China and Mexico. I've learned to slow down and I'm actually enjoying the change of pace.
I took over the Seasonal and Outdoor Power Equipment departments as the Garden Center became quieter each day from lack of foot traffic. Our mature clientel do not function well when the heat index reaches 105F for what seemed like weeks at a time. The younger folks spend the summer trying to toss each other from their waverunners on the two lakes nearby.
Ive stepped out of the proverbial frying pan and into a whole mess of firepits and kerosene heaters. We're in the middle of our fall resets. This morning, my manager, who used to work at the other end of the store in lumber, had plans to install the 16 beams and 32 pieces of decking for the Christmas lights already arriving a few boxes at a time every other day. I will find out Monday if he accomplished his self-prescribed task.
I've been working in retail for over three years now since the economy was wrecked by people whose sole existence is based on greed. Every week I print a schedule decided on by a person I've never met. I imagine he or she works in a cubicle a long way from any operating windows or doors. This person does not know that I function best when I follow the cyclical rhythms designed by Mother Nature.
In summer, I wake as soon as the sky is light. I go to bed not long after the Datura are fully open. During the cold dark winter, I prefer to sleep as much as possible. That's just a dream when you have to be at work at 5am on Tuesday, leave at 2pm, and return the following day for a 3 to 11pm shift. The body doesn't get used to a schedule like that.
For at least a year and a half, I've been dreaming of the day when I once again control my own schedule. I've logged hundreds of miles across the rough concrete in the Garden Center hauling and lifting tons of soil, mulch, and living materials. It will become a reality sooner rather than later. At first it will supplement my meager wages with plans to transition to a career as my business grows.
At the end of July, I installed a small pond complete with stone and some plants purchased or dug from my own yard for Carla's neighbor. She's got friends that have inquired about my time and availability. I spent a lot of hot and cold days making a name for myself in this town. I sowed and planted. I read blogs and participated in online communities. I got sweaty and passed that information along to customers for less money than I made in a textile mill between high school and college in the early 90s. It's almost time for me to claim what is rightfully mine. I've worked hard to learn what I now know.
To all those that have helped me over the four years that I have spent here transforming not just a yard and house, but myself as well, I can never thank you all enough for the knowledge I've acquired. Little snippets of plants and pounds of seed were shared and passed on to others with the same information given to me. I honestly cannot thank you enough fully aware that in doing so, I threaten the existence of the plants that were shared. There comes a time when knowledge must be separated from superstition. That time is fast approaching.
I look forward to the next several years working to build yet another business from scratch. I wish you could all follow along but I've got to do this one alone. Good health, best wishes, and may all your dreams be realized whether in the garden or not.
Tom Gainey, gardener