“Attitude adjustment” is a relatively new phrase that has entered our vernacular English. It has to do mostly with adjusting one’s mien from disgust or disappointment of a day or days into a feeling more appealing. 

Some people attempt to seek said adjustment in the nearest beer joint or lounge while taking advantage of the day’s “happy hour” specials. 

Others simply give up the ghost and go home to spend the evening waiting until they can take a pill or two and enjoy sweet dreams for the night. 

Anyhow, nearly all of us can use and do need an adjustment of attitude from time to time, but I don’t advise either of the mentioned options. 

Case in point: Back in early summer when a great storm chose our garden to pick on and downed massive trees and lesser, yet no less precious, garden ingredients, I went out the morning after and surveyed the damage. Returning to the house, I ranted and wailed about our misfortune. My assistant, whose attitude was already adjusted, scolded me and said, in effect, “The house is all right, the gazebo is all right, the garden shed is all right, and we are all right. Now shut up!” Or something like that. 

Even when lesser disasters occur in our gardens, we (me, anyway) tend to see the dark side of it all, and forget about good fortune that might be occurring the same day. 

For instance, I have railed for years about the seemingly ineradicable mulberry weed that appears incessantly out of nowhere to haunt you and me alike in every month with even some bit of benign warmth. 

Here am I relentlessly weeding the cursed bane under a merciless sun and 95-degree temperatures, when I look between tears of sweat running over my eyes to observe nearby hundreds of impatiens in full blow in every color of the rainbow. 

This, after they had been declared dead on arrival after some years of attack by the nefarious downy mildew. 

Miraculously my self-seeded plantation of hundreds of them in woodland and elsewhere reappeared a few years ago after lying doggo during at least two years of total absence. 

Where, then, was my thankfulness? No, the rotten mulberry weed had rendered null and void any semblance of it. 

My assistant just hasn’t learned how to complain. She, in fact, presented me with a T-shirt which reads on its front “I complain, therefore I am,” a takeoff on the French philosopher Rene Descartes’ famous deduction, “I think, therefore I am.”  

I would imagine most people have a similar problem as mine. In fact, I hear more people complaining than praising good fortune. Maybe it’s just the company I keep. 

Say, for instance, we are in the midst of horrendous drought and I have been pulling hoses for months with little effect. Scores of woody plants are wasting away before my very eyes. The scene, by the way, is not imaginary. It has happened more than once in recent years. 

So, what do I do after another long session of watering under the broiling sun? I come in, seeking sympathy, when my said assistant shushes me and rejoins with a reminder that our windshield wipers are lasting longer than they did when it rained more often. Well, whoopee!


JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.

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