I think we've all been there. You stare out at the garden; it's not the way you want it, you seem to have been working on it for ages and, right now, you really don't have the inclination or even the ideas to make it change for the better. In fact, it's just become a chore.
But is it the garden, or life itself that's making you feel like that? And what can you do about it, anyway?
The answer might surprise you. In celebration of Poetry Day, I asked the country's only Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma for a prescription for the ills I've just described.
Sounds odd? Well, Deborah's is a deceptively simple idea. She travels the country in her 1970s ambulance, listening to people's problems, probing preferences, and then picking the poem that offers balm for whatever ails her "patient".
With it, you'll possibly get a prescription to place the poem where you can read it often or, as with one of mine, "Take the poem once a day, ideally outside and alone and listen to the birdsong, staying outside until you can identify at least five different songs."
I mean, what better suggestion for a gardener?
Deborah usually has a chat to establish reading preferences and answers to, as she says, "other mysterious questions", but I posed her an extra challenge in that we did all this by email. What did she suggest?
I've been prescribed a cocktail. First, Postscript by Seamus Heaney. It describes, explains Deborah, "a trip out to County Clare, where there is a calm lake on one side and a stormier sea in the other. The poet stands in-between and into this limbo, or in-between space, something marvellous comes. I suppose it’s a poem of letting go and not chasing something; and so the answer, the inspiration, can be allowed in." If you don't know it (and I didn't) it's also a beautiful description of wild landscape.
The second poem, to be placed somewhere prominent, is The Door by Miroslav Holub (another poet I'd never met before), which, as Deborah says, asks "for one small step forward, as long as something is done." It does, and it made me laugh.
I'm not reproducing them here for copyright reasons, but do click through and read them.
Meanwhile, out this month is Emergency Poet - An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology. Edited by Deborah, it offers her choice of poetry for times when you need hope, a tonic to lift the spirits, courage, inspiration and support for life stages we all encounter. Reading it is a reminder of why poetry remains perennially popular - all life is in it, so succinctly stated.
And if you think all anthologies tend to rehash the same popular lines, then you're in for a treat. There are familiar verses from Yeats, Thomas, Tennyson, Housman and others, but equally it includes plenty of lesser known poets - not being well versed (hah!), I'm not sure if I should be ashamed of never having heard before of Derek Mahon, Kaylin Haught and Gerda Mayer, but I'm delighted now to have made their acquaintance.
This collection is a rich delight that cleverly expresses and comforts so many of our emotions. You can find out where Deborah will be visiting next on her website, but when she's too far away to meet face to face the book puts her knowledge and wisdom next to you on the shelf.