Saturday, April 26, 2014

digging fools

Okay, I understand. Finally, at 61 I get it. The human form is composed of contradictory sets of skills and impulses. You can be smart and lazy. Artistic but clumsy. Adventurous and scared. And here's one -- energetic but too old to make use of your (perceived) vast energy resources. Just because I want to dig and lift and pull with all my might, doesn't mean I should.

In a sense, I have the wrong role model next to me. Ed puts his body through far more rigorous contortions and workouts than I do. He pushes himself on hills when biking, lugs stones the size of his head, pulls out trees if I ask him to (small ones, but with mighty roots). And he is three years older than I am. So I assumed that I can do the same.

I can't. This Polish peasant stock that I carry in me gives me the will. But it hasn't necessarily equipped me with a musculature that can match my expectations of what I should be able to do.

In other words, I really pulled my back yesterday and with that event, just like in Brittany last month, I am effectively incapable of changing positions (stand me up and I can stand; lie me down and I can lie; ask me to move from one to the other and I'll politely decline -- or howl in pain, because truly, it's reminiscent of having lower back birthing contractions, only there isn't the pleasure of a baby at the end that would make it all worth while).

And of course, when the flare up settles down a bit, I think -- oh, great! I'm fine again! And even though Ed offers his chicken services in the early morning, I brush his kindness aside and go down myself to open the coop and clean it out even before sunrise!

(I'm done; the sun clears the horizon, the willow sways)

(daffodils, golden tipped at sunrise)

(the morning starts with a rest under the picnic table)

And when I come back to the farmhouse, I think I'm okay, I'm okay, but when I lie down, I realize I cannot now get up.

Which is a damn shame, because we set aside this day to help build the Ice Age trail over by Wisconsin's Gibraltar Rock. For a thousand reasons, we want to volunteer today. The trail building is in one of our favorite places within an hour's drive of where we live. It's a hill that protrudes straight up, with views over our vast farmlands and the Wisconsin River to the north, and it's where Ed and I went on our very first hiking date way back when. We have sentimental feelings about the place.

Too, we love the Ice Age Trail project -- attempting to create a continuous hiking trail across the entire state of Wisconsin -- and we try to volunteer on maintenance or building whenever the crew is working near us.

And the weather! Another (and final, for a while, we're told) beautiful April day, with plenty of sunshine and cool breezes -- a dream day for outdoor work.

Except that I can barely get two bowls of cereal on the table for breakfast.


And when Ed suggests I try stretching my back on the floor, it takes us a good ten minutes to get me back up to a standing position. With a lot of "I cants" and wails in between.

And yet...

The thought of sending Ed off to build trails in that beautiful setting is just too much and so we form a pact: get me into the car and I'll go. No no. Not to work on the trail. Ed can do that. I'll stand. Or walk if I can. Or recline in the car and count the minutes.

And we do just that. Which is why I can offer you a few photos from this glorious place on this most sublime April day. Because once there and standing, I could be pushed forward and I could walk. Slowly but surely. All the way to the top.

(the river below)

(the trail builders)

(here, too, a hawk in search of...chickens)

(the beloved view from the top)

After, I drag Ed to grocery shop. I point, he throws stuff into the cart. And, too, we stop at my daughter's home. We have kitty sitting duties and Goldie, their cat, is surely happy to see us.

(we're more fun than... a bowl of apples!)

(And Ed is happy to see her. Indeed, Ed spends so much time cuddling animals behind my back that I have to believe he has an instinct to smother in affection any living thing, especially if it's one hundredth his size.)


We're back at the farmette late in the afternoon. I was a little nervous. The chickens had been free ranging the entire time. Any number of things could have happened. But, much as Ed had predicted, nothing did happen. And they're so happy to see us! I call cheepers! -- and they come running, delighted that the treat keeper is back again.


In the evening, I stretch my back once more and I can see that the spasms are really fading. Which is terrific. Two days of pain is a lot better than a week of pain. Still, we eat take out food to keep me off my feet. And when Ed asks after supper - you want to plant the asparagus roots? I tell him -- I can do one. No more.

(he gets help digging holes from the hens)

And so we end the day in the yard, as always and I actually manage to plant a cup of free seeds from Whole Foods to commemorate Earth Day and the chickens just laugh and cackle because they are so tickled to have us back and up and digging again.