tools we use


My husband, the master gardener,  loves to have company in his garden as he works.  For many years he liked it when Mike,  our fourteen year old cat, would slink over to wherever he was,  find a spot, and offer up a purr or two.  Sadly, Mike, passed on a few years back and I am invited to find a spot and offer up what I do best- conversation.  Early on I sensed that Dave preferred to work in silence and that my presence and occasional help was all that was necessary.

This last week, Dave was on a trimming mission and he definitely wanted me on clean-up detail.  I didn’t mind because it was sunny and I knew that I could just continually, ‘think my own thoughts’, as I worked to cut the branches and put the clippings in the bags.  He started with the easy bushes.  I just clipped and stuffed happily along.  But then I knew I was in trouble as he brought out the ladder and started conquering the wisteria that grows wildly up our deck’s huge shade trellis.

“Watch it up there, you know how much I love that shade,”  He continued to hack.

“Don’t worry, Nanc, it grows like a weed and I need the sun for my oak leaf hydrangea please just continue to put the foliage in bags.”

I started to feel overwhelmed as Dave continued to saw with gusto.  Branches were flying.  My clippers weren’t keeping up. My hands were tired and I wondered if somehow my tool needed sharpening.  I turned it around the other way and suddenly it was cutting the wisteria like butter.  I was happier and was starting to think my thoughts again.

My tool didn’t work one way, so I tried it another way instead of abandoning it altogether.  It is like that with the teaching tools and strategies also… a good tool is flexible.  At firs,t when I turned the clippers the other way I thought, kind of in an embarrassed way, that I was using the tool in the wrong way or that something was wrong with the tool.  When Dave got off the ladder I confessed that to him.

He stared and me and said, “I use the clippers, both ways…it depends on the branch and my position.”

At school we need to make those instant decisions with our tools continually.  I need that reminder that great tools are flexible in the hands of a master gardener.  Incidentally, I believe, that master gardeners never view themselves as finished.  They assess, plant, fertilize, revisit, prune and pray.


About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

6 responses »

  1. What a wonderful analogy! The “tools” we use at school really do need to be adapted to our growing nad ever changing branches. I am sure that working – without too much talking – provided a chance to think and reflect on what you were doing and life. Perhaps that is why so MANY of us love to work in our gardens (at school and at home).

  2. I agree with Anita – I love this analogy. Even before I got to the connection aspect though I loved the slice, picturing you and your husband. We can learn so much about teaching from our everyday life!

  3. So was the wisteria cut to your liking or do you have to wait for it to grow back?
    I love the way you connected the use of tools to the work done at school. It fits so well, you are so smart! 🙂

  4. Quietly holding the bag and thinking. Thank you for sharing “Great tools are flexible in the hands of a master gardener. ” A reminder that as my plants grow, I will adapt what they need.

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