If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.
My garden is necessary to me, as vital as writing. It is my long form of creation, and when all else fails me the garden soothes and restores.
I go into the garden and feel the warm breeze brought up from the south. Outside my door, I am greeted by the sweet perfume of Daphne odora aureomarginata. Bought as an overpriced, football sized clump of leaves, it now overflows its bed and rewards my patience with weeks of gorgeously scented blooms.
From there I stroll under the beech tree, where crocuses and narcissi dance in the wind and open their faces to the sun. I am reminded to do the same, after long hours hunched in front of a screen at my chosen work of writing.
I stretch and feel the sun on my face, watch clouds scudding across the sky and remember the real world. After hours or days spent in the insubstantial realm of stories and ideas, here is something that can be photographed and touched.
And the lessons learned, of planning, patience, planting a seed and going on with the rest of life, of physical effort, are just as relevant to the storyteller. Great things can come from small beginnings, and if the season disappoints there is always another chance, another time to experiment.
Beauty is no accident, but the result of hard, dirty graft.
The ground must be dug, the bulb must be planted, the weeds pulled, so that much later something gorgeous catches your eye, glimpsed from a window. The work is forgotten then in the simple joy of colour, pattern, movement.