A Tincture of Time

By Will Baker


Well it’s early June in Vermont, and there is a Winter Weather Advisory in effect this evening. I feel badly for those industrious gardeners, who worked so hard to get their gardens planted in time for Memorial Day, only to be confronted with the likelihood of freezing temperatures and mabye even some snow only a few days later.

As for me, well I had been stressing over the fact that this year we are late in getting our garden in. Due to time pressures, and too many tasks to be accomplished, the planting of the garden had to take a back seat to the launching of the sailboat. However, in hindsight, things seem to have worked out well. Had we been able to plant that garden, we would have been joining our neighbors in attempting to mitigate a rather serious frost-kill. I guess that, even though our procrastination was unintentional, the old adage of treating this situation with a "tincture of time" applies.

After walking this earth for forty-plus years, I am still amazed at our attempts at controlling every aspect of our lives, as if we had the power to do so, which every five-year-old knows we do not. For example, take my own crazy actions during this past week. It was the last weekend in May, therefore I had to open the pool, get the garden in, launch the sailboat and plant a variety of ornamentals around the yard--at least that was my plan. And when I say that I "had to," by God I mean it. Why? Because old habits indicate that all of this work had to be accomplished before the start of the summer season. Why? Because if I didn’t accomplish these things I would be conducting myself as if I was a slacker, a disorganized waster of precious time, in other words, it would make me feel badly. And I have to admit that, even though I did get it almost all done, since the garden didn’t get planted, I felt poorly. At least until I heard the weather report and realized that there seemed to be some synchronistic wisdom in my lack of person lawn/garden-care production.

And it seems to me that there might be a lesson in this. For, sometimes, things really do take care of themselves. Sure we can try to "get it all done," but the fact remains that, most of the time we never will. And certainly, when one goal is accomplished two more will inevitably take its place. But we are certainly creatures that thrive on setting and accomplishing goals. Folks come to mind, acquaintances of mine, who are paradigms of goal-driveness. These folks set very lofty expectations for themselves, write their lists and then bang the items out, one after the other. But in listening to them speak, it is clear that they often wish that they had more time to get things done.

So what is the point? Well perhaps we need to give ourselves a break and realize that the world won’t come to an end if a to-do, such as putting in a garden, doesn’t get done. And one might even avoid a killing frost in the process. Yes, it seems to me that, treating a situation with a tincture with time might apply in a variety of situations. But I suppose that, to a degree, the proposition could just be a crap-shoot anyway.



 (Essay Collection)