Motivation is something teachers and parents think about often. We struggle for ways to instill intrinsic rather than extrinsic factors that motivate children to work harder, read more, show kindness, and in general, reach their potential.
Sometimes though, I think a little extrinsic push helps. I don’t need candy or stickers to go weed the garden, but some cool and dry fall weather sure would help. Instead, I woke Thursday to a downpour. Again. It rained five times in the first six days of September and I’m starting to feel a little moldy. I let a funk slide over me as I sat down to rearrange my plans for the day. As I was moping and, not to be completely lazy, writing a letter to my daughter, I got a text from a friend. In essence she said how lucky I was to be able to enjoy the rain. Her words jolted me; they were just what I needed. She was right. I am lucky. I shouldn’t be moping about a little rain. Within minutes I finished my letter, donned jeans and boots, and headed out to the garden.
It certainly needed my attention. Volunteer squash plants that delighted me in July were almost scary. And while we have enjoyed some weird looking, but tasty cucumbers, the other squash forms maturing did not look appetizing. I pulled them all out. Their stalks were as thick as my forearm and made wet pops as I bent them, sounding like the beginning of a song played on PVC pipes.
Next, came the butternut squash I did plant. This is the first year I’ve succeeded in keeping the squash bugs at bay. I’ve been admiring seven butternut squash as they’ve grown from the size of my pinky to the size of my 9 x 9 baking dish, cut in half and decorated with butter and brown sugar of course. The plant has been dying back for several weeks, but I was not sure when to harvest the fruit. Given all the rain and the discovery of some black mold colonies forming, I decided it was time. I washed off the mold and they are curing in the kitchen.
I weeded other areas too. I picked beans that are still producing. They give us enough for a vegetable serving every few days. I picked my first radish and was so excited that I planted another row right away. They’ll be ready in just 30 days. In between all this weeding, I had a little fun. I took any slug or caterpillar I found eating my vegies, and any grasshopper I could catch, to the chickens. I quickly learned the mine, mine call they make when one chick deems an offering tasty and snatches it, running from the others. The caterpillars on my chard were refused, while grasshoppers caused quite a scrabble.
I stayed outside for about two hours, weeding and listening to my chicks. By this time my jeans had wicked water from the grass almost to my knees, and the mosquitos had not only found me, but also notified the whole neighborhood that there was fresh blood out and about. I came in happy though. My intrinsic motivation was restored with a few extrinsic words and some hard work. Thanks LA.