On accepting help


Meadow-encroached long bed now grass-free!

On Saturday, three of Tom’s students came to work in the gardens with me.  Considering my recent revelation of (duh!) how much more work gets done with help, I gladly, readily accepted!  And I am so thankful.

It took me a long time to come to this realization:  sometimes, I cannot do it all.  Sometimes, it’s quite nice to have help.

I would say my hesitancy to either ask for or accept help comes from that nagging sense of obligation that attends the help itself.   Would I be willing to return the favor, or would I always feel indebted?  I expect help, for example, with the school garden:  its objective is not so small (feeding the school) whereas my personal garden feeds my personal family.  And maybe that is it: my garden is selfishly mine, whose output feeds me and mine, plus a few other souls as serves my need for dispensing largesse.

We got a lot accomplished Saturday, whatever my feelings are toward accepting the help.  I will say I was rather surprised when a student made the offer, and even more surprised when two other students offered to join.  We shared a happy garden-supplied meal, ate a yard-supplied chicken, drank elderflower cordial and grape juice of the property, and finished with an egg-based dessert from the girls with our strawberries on top.  It was fun, we were dirty and sore.

11 responses to “On accepting help

  1. Sometimes ‘help’ comes with twice the work in having to proofread others’ mistakes, where it just becomes easier to do it yourself; but it sounds like you avoided that problem.

  2. It sounds like you gave as much as you got. I bet they had a great day.
    I understand about the asking and accepting help. A few of us in the neighborhood are talking about starting a work co-op. Our goal is to become faux Amish and go to one house a month and tackle the list. Afterwards we’ll have a great dinner, music and chatter; hopefully, we won’t fall asleep in the soup.

  3. That was a win-win-win-win.

  4. Send them students to NJ. We can offer samosas, roasted ducks, tandoori chicken, mint tea and fresh peaches for dessert. : )

    Our barn is in such a horrible shape…you wont beileve it. Being a salary slave…I am stuck and cant seem to have enough time anymore.

    Hope you 3 are doing well.

  5. I imagine this product on the kitchen counter, ‘El’s Largesse Dispenser’, bottled for the deserving, use as needed!

    • Snort! Randi, it’s more like me sizing someone up and measuring, is this person worthy of that tomato, of those dozen eggs? I suppose it could come in pill form too.

  6. Sound as though they were amply repaid. Sometimes I forget that the givers of help receive something just by being accepted. I know I do!

  7. Offering and accepting help are both among the most difficult things to do, I think. I also struggle with accepting help, partly because it tends to make me feel that I’ll then become dependent on it. But I know that shouldn’t be the case, and that sometimes it hurts the offer-er to push them away.
    You are lucky to have people offer to help – so often people don’t take time to recognize when a hand is needed or what to do.

  8. Jason, becoming a mother has partially cured me of the need to micromanage, but yes, you’re right! I kind of amortize it by saying to myself, well, how long would it have taken me to do the whole task, versus just the cleanup I might need to do? There’s the benefit.

    Pamela, make that talk into actual work and it might be great! I have a friend who, with another girlfriend, clean each other’s houses every Wednesday, with wine. Stripping the beds, doing the bathrooms and floors, they alternate weekly. A hundred years ago (or less as is the case of this house) there were a lot more people living in any one house, thus, more folks to do the work. More folks to dirty the place up too but just think. My dishes would be clean!

    CC, it was fun, too. Work that’s fun!

    WF, I CAN believe the condition of your barn. My shed is that way, and every day I swear I won’t let it, but there it is. Wouldn’t it be great if you only worked 30 hours a week? Sigh, I know, it won’t happen, but we can dream, right? I was quite jealous of your vacation. We go to an island in So Carolina with family every couple of years and I swear I can still taste the oysters, the butterbeans and collards…

    Randi, I also say to myself, what’s wrong with me that I feel so high and mighty about those tomatoes and eggs? But then I realize they’re still precious so…my attitude.

    Stef, I told myself that too, but it didn’t help much. One of the students has a boyfriend doing ag work in the Peace Corps so she’s trying to get more into the business of growing things, and the other two both have gardening interests, so…maybe they learned something, maybe not. Either way I am still immensely grateful.

    MC, yeah. I actually had to think about what it was I could have them work on but that one bed was my blind spot (denial is a good thing) so it felt really great to get it finished. I hear you! If I had to be dependent on help then that garden wouldn’t be the size it is. I have gotten it to a point where it’s JUST manageable by me with the time I have, but then comes Preservation Season and whoops, up come the weeds!!!! Sigh.

  9. El,

    It was really great to come visit and help! You have such a beautiful garden and amazing life out there. It was definitely one of the best days I have had this summer. If you EVER need anymore help with anything at all I would be glad to do it, whatever it is, just let me know.

    Thanks again!


    P.s. Your jam and applesauce are both almost gone. Delicious!!

  10. Alice, you’re a saint! I am so grateful to your sweat, and sorry for your blisters! We’d love to have you come down again: I won’t have you doing anything nearly so arduous, though. Seed-saving stuff is what takes the most time and is for me the least fun but it’s something that needs to be done, so…maybe we’ll get you down here again, if you would like. We’d love your help!

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