Just as Spring is a time for new beginnings, so is retirement. When Spring is in the air, it’s time to get back to some of the excitement that may have been missing over the winter months. Retirement is a time to get back to some of the things you might have been missing during your working years. Just as Spring and Nature seem to be the harbinger of the better times that are waiting for us, retirement can be that period in your life when you finally have the time to do all the things that had to be put on hold as you worked to build a career. Indeed, my wife and I have found retirement to be a path to a new life and the time to venture out into things that we have always wanted to try.
My wife is the poster child for the new hobbyist, and she brings two wonderful pastimes together every Spring. Inside, she starts gardening in small flowerpots even before the snow has melted outside. Every year, there’s the same excitement with the first sprouts as the baby green plants make their way to the sun with words of encouragement and a daily watering from the gardener herself. There is a great sense of fulfillment every year with the new beginnings of another gardening season. Her specialty is herbs and, until you taste the difference between the fresh variety versus the dried leaves in a jar, you have no idea what you’re missing. Talk about new beginnings! Using fresh herbs in our favorite recipes brought a whole new level of enjoyment at dinner. And the tomatoes she grew last year were things of beauty. Everything brings a sense of satisfaction that is only exceeded by the other new and overriding passion in her life – woodworking! The plant stands she works on over the winter in our basement will be moved to our deck. The potted plants will then be brought outside as the earth warms up and the frosty nights disappear. You can tell she is having a great time and her woodworking skills have gotten better with each project.
With all of this activity and the optimism that seems to come upon us every year as the warm weather arrives, we struggle to understand how people can get bored in retirement. This time in your life is the season for new beginnings. Retirement has been one of the most inspiring times of my life as I find that I have the time that I never had before to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. While working with dirt and wood are not things that I find to be enjoyable, those two hobbies that my wife started feed right into one of the things I have found to be a new challenge and immensely rewarding: cooking! I’ve always enjoyed cooking but now I have the time to tackle more complex undertakings. The fresh herbs make all the difference in the world in the new recipes that I research and try. Everyone has heard of the Farm to Table movement in the restaurant business. We call this Deck to Table because that’s where the herbs are kept and cared for. Last year we had pots scattered all around the deck but, this year, those pots will be nicely positioned on the stands that were built by my wife. She has shared pictures with some friends and, as you might be able to guess, she has received rave reviews and requests for lessons.
In case you’re wondering why we are using our deck for our harvest, the answer is that the elevation keeps our plants from becoming deer food. They have yet to walk up the ten steps to get to the plants and it is our sincere hope that they never do. Last year we had quite a garden of tarragon, basil, oregano and parsley. Our little tomatoes were unbelievably sweet and the plant of chile peppers became the ingredients for an unbelievably delicious onion and pepper jam.
On my end, I have discovered the wonders of fresh basil and have worked on the perfect pesto! That research began last year and reached such a serious state that we actually ran out of basil! No worries this year, however. We tripled the number of pots devoted to this wonderful herb which is so much more delicate when it is fresh rather than the dried flakes in a jar.
We are relative newcomers to each of the hobbies mentioned here but are already looking forward to new projects. We’ll explore new plants and culinary creations, and my guess is that it won’t be long until the new woodworker in the family starts making some pieces of furniture. Talk about new beginnings! We had always looked at our retirement years as a time to try new things and it is turning out to be exactly that. We are very thankful!