Getting Old

By | February 23, 2017
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Getting Old

It’s been an amazingly warm winter this year. In fact, today is February 23, and it’s 70 degrees. Now, you might think I’m sitting at some outdoor cafe in Key Largo, but actually I’m up here in the northern part of the Midwest. Crazy warm!

Because it’s been so warm lately, I’ve been thinking about gardens, and summer, and that kind of thing. This afternoon, being that it felt like the month May outside, I decided to move the logs I had once toted –from Heaven knows where —  to use as a border around the garden that I painstakingly laid out decades ago. I wanted to get old rotting logs out of the way – they have become nothing but a grass-mowing obstacle course and a home for ugly, slimy bugs. I don’t need the hassle.

Well, let me tell you those logs were heavy. They were much heavier today, taking them out, than they were putting them in forty years ago. I’d like to tell you there were they were water-logged and actually heavier, but the fact is, I’ve getting old. Those logs I hauled in and laid around the garden as a border four decades ago, went in much easier than they came out today.

After decades of planting gardens, weeding gardens, tending gardens, fighting bugs, plant diseases and too-much-rain, not-enough-rain, too cold, too hot, frost, floods and drought, I decided that I had had enough of gardens. Enough! I said to myself.

Every year I’ve threatened not to till up the garden and just mow over the weeds with the lawn mower and be done with it. This year I decided to actually go through with it. Why? Because I am old and I am wise.

I figured out that last year I spent about $500 growing about $50 worth of tomatoes. Figuring in the money I spent for adding more topsoil, organic fertilizer, organic bug stuff, water, plants, and those kinds of things, plus adding in the $100 or so I spent on deer repellent (which didn’t work, by-the-way), I spent at least $500. I planted about 30 tomato plants and made a lot of deer happy. I don’t think I even got one single bushel for myself.

A wise man knows when to say when.. and not just when they’re drinking! I am not growing anymore gardens to feed deer, no matter how cute they are.  And I’m not going to bring in more logs or posts and build a fence. Heck, it would have to 8 feet high to keep the deer out. Nope this year, I’m older and wiser: I will find an organic farmer – well not an organic farmer really, but a farmer who grows crops organically, and I’ll buy my tomatoes from him (or her).

I’ve going through with my plan this year, after threatening to do it for years. Now when it comes mid-June and I have no garden, but a patch of weeds instead… I’ll just cut down the weeds in the garden with my lawnmower.

Done and done!

But it’s not mid-June. It’s late February, and unless this spate of warm weather continues for weeks, it’s going to be a couple months before I get the lawnmower out.

Those Logs!

Those stupid logs that went in so easy all those years ago, have to be taken away. Right now they’re sitting in a pile on my back lot line. I have a truck. I thought today would be a fine day not only to move those logs out of the garden area, but to haul them off to the landfill – good riddance!

So, I grabbed a log with every intention of picking it up and throwing it my truck and nearly broke my back trying to throw it. I could barely lift the darn thing let alone throw it. When I put those logs around the garden carried them two at a time… whistling while I worked!  There I was today, same guy, me, barely able to lift one log at a time, trying to throw the things in the back of a pickup truck. I did four of them and sat down on a lawn chair gasping for air and trying to ignore the pain shooting through my back.

I had six more logs to go, and I stood there. I managed to get two more logs into the pickup truck, then collapsed into a lawn chair, gasping and realizing I’m an old, out-of-shape, curmudgeon with four more logs to go. I reached deep inside and got enough energy together to get two more logs into the truck before I collapsed, gasping, in the chair again.

Two more logs to go.

Someone once said, and I can’t remember who, because my mind is going, something like… you can’t be a sissy and grow old… you have to be tough. because it’s tough, I tells ya!

I finally got up out of the chair, wheezing, gasping, coughing and aching and moved those last two logs and put them in the back of the truck.

I slumped into the lawn chair to catch my breath and ease my old, gnarled, pain-ridden body. I remembered the day, when I, a young man hauled those logs around to the back yard and put them around the garden.  I remember that day so well.  I went over to the log store and bought ten telephone-pole-sized…not really… logs and tossed them into the back of my pickup truck and took them home.

I carried them two at a time back to the garden until I had all ten situated around the garden, both as a barrier and a border. That being done I planted a few dozen tomato plants and pepper plants and dozens of seeds. Then — and oh this makes me so sad to think — I went on a 3-mile, 18-minute run. When I got home, I got home took a shower and felt like a million bucks… and ready for anything.

No gasping. No aching back. No wheezing.

On the bright side of things, having pushed my old flabby body to its limits today, at least I didn’t drop dead. I survived! And there’s something to be said about that. I won!

Anyway…  I gingerly lifted myself out of the lawn chair and shuffled into the house. That’s right – I said “shuffled”. I thought about how time takes its toll on everything…except wine, cheese, and honey. I have thought about getting back into shape, maybe even do a bit of jogging, but even thinking that kind of stuff exhausts me and I quickly come to my senses.

As I grow older I realize it’s better to live in an illusory world. And let me tell you… I do.

When I shave or have to anything that requires looking in a mirror, I do so in dim light – just enough to get the job done. And if you’re honest, you will admit you do the same thing if you’re old. Heck, sometimes I look in the mirror and jump back in fright – who the heck is that old geezer staring back at me?

But you know what? One thing I’ll never do, is allow myself to fall into the routine that I call the “waiting to die” routine. I’m not ever going to retire. Why should I? So I can sit around wondering what day it is, watching re-runs of “Gunsmoke”, “Marcus Welby, M.D.” or “Bonanza”– may Hoss and Little Joe rest in peace — drinking prune juice, putting everything I eat in a blender first, and sit around for hours on park benches feeding pigeons and all the other things I associate with the “waiting to die” routine. It’s not for me.

So, though I may not be able to move logs anymore, I’m not giving into the “waiting-to-die” routine. I’m going to keep on working and keep on trying to keep on. I’ve made a pledge to get back to walking at least a couple miles a day, no matter how tough it may be, and I’ve managed to do that.

I think we should all keep on keeping on and never give up, no matter how heavy those old logs my be, or how out of breath we get. We’re all going to go sometime, but why waste time or thought preparing for it?

Eat,drink, and be merry.

And hire somebody  young to move those logs…

18 thoughts on “Getting Old

  1. Jackie Keesee

    I turned 79 yesterday and this past Spring I had Bill till 2 flower beds in and sow in grass. I could no longer get back up easily after weeding. There is a time for everything and Bill will be 81 in April and I hate to admit this but he is in better physical shape. Not sure why, bearing children or just genes but we will celebrate 60 years in June if we live to see the 22nd. It’s been a wild ride but we are glad we were not quitters.
    Jackie

    Reply
  2. Sandra Corbin

    We are not giving up either — we are old — not dead! So, let’s keep on keeping on. God’s not finished with us yet!

    We really enjoy your articles. You are such a good writer. Thank you for sharing your talents with everyone.

    Reply
  3. Barb

    I have given up my vege garden because it now takes me forever to get anything done. I had to keep stopping to let the aged body recover sufficiently to keep going. Besides, I can buy my food in quantities suited to my requirements. I pay people to do things that used to be so simple. It leaves me more time for playing computer games and answering emails. Although heavy work has more or less ceased for me, I still care for my home and continue with home improvements. Having achieved 4 decades, I think it is my right to do what I like, so I do. And riding a mobility scooter has turned out to be great fun! I’m delighted that I’m not alone in this AGE thing!

    Reply
  4. June

    AMEN! Never admit you “can’t “….My 85th is almost here, plus almost 67 years (with the same man I must admit) & yes the muscles are weaker & the arthritis is in the joints..
    just take in a big breath & keep going before you think you are too old!!
    The garden??? Keep mowing the weeds & take in all the “Farmers Markets.” I tell ya.”

    Reply
  5. Lynn

    Yes, I can recall back a long time ago, my dear 83 year old aunt telling me, “Getting old isn’t for wimps!”
    Dear auntie was right, I tells ya.

    Reply
  6. Rose Cantalini

    You know that you might hire someone to mow the lawn and the weeds for you, too. We did , and it doesn’t hurt at all.

    Reply
  7. Mike

    The World Is Too Much With Us
    BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
    The world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
    Little we see in Nature that is ours;
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
    This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
    The winds that will be howling at all hours,
    And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
    It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

    Reply
  8. Judy

    Wonderful article and I so enjoyed it, I guess because we can relate so well. Thank you for your writings they are uplifting and amusing.

    Reply
  9. Nora

    Amen I say to all of that! I don’t care anymore if it takes me three hours to do what I used to do in one! At least I can still do it. Lol! Thanks for a great essay.

    Reply
  10. Jim

    This was a great essay and it really hit home. My wife still does gardening, but I have neuropathy and have balance issues. But I can certainly relate to not being able to lift what I used to plus I have no strength left in my hands to tighten or loosen anything. I enjoyed it so much that I emailed it to all my “old” friends. And I am only 71 years old.

    Reply
  11. Cathy

    It’s been 60’s and 70’s here in Pa and I got all the branches cleaned up, trimmed bushes, clipped and pulled bushes up, chopped roots and pulled tree trunks up. Tree trunks pulled up had my husband help with them. My whole body hurt every single day but ahh absorbing Jr every nite. Getting hard to do with my age I still able to get it done. Yard looks nice now

    Reply
  12. Lucy Elmore

    I hear you! 79 now and doing much less gardening….but this week I ordered some asparagus plants! My plan is to have a little raised bed for them…actually only one of them. I’m giving the other 9 to a friend for his garden of veggies. I guess I’m being optimistic since I have to wait a couple of years to get a good harvest of spears. But with the circle of stones to grow them in, they will look nice in my garden area. I have to cart 13 stones from my car to the garden, a few at a time, before I get the rest of them…23 more to make the circle. If it gets to be too much, I’ll call my garden man to finish! LOL Yep, we can’t do what we used to do, but as others have said, we have to keep on moving and doing and LIVING. Enjoy your log-free garden!
    Lucy

    Reply
  13. MARGO Kennedy

    Loved your article,could relate very well.I get mad at myself for not being able to do so many things that had been no problem just a few years ago.However,I am glad I can still enjoy so many things that i can still do.I love driving,being with family and friends ,going out to a movie,a play ,to eat or just a nice walk.I will be 78 this year and feel blessed to still have so much fun that has been denied so many .God bless and stay well.

    Reply
  14. MARGO

    Loved your article,could relate very well.I get mad at myself for not being able to do so many things that had been no problem just a few years ago.However,I am glad I can still enjoy so many things that i can still do.I love driving,being with family and friends ,going out to a movie,a play ,to eat or just a nice walk.I will be 78 this year and feel blessed to still have so much fun that has been denied so many .God bless and stay well.

    Reply
  15. Janice (Pat)

    Oh..TC….I am sorry to hear that you are giving up on your garden!! We have been gardening all our lives…I am almost 87 and husband is almost 89. We have decided NOT to plant, this year, row after row of corn to freeze, or plant eleven rows of potatoes to dig! But, in spite of the deer we will plant tomatoes, carrots, peas, beans, kohlrabi, beets, many many flowers( which he starts and puts first in the sun room, then in the little greenhouse) and who knows what else since I did not see the seed order!
    For the first time in years the deer have not eaten the buds on our hundreds of Azaleas and Rhodies. We have used Milorganite lately and that seems to deter them a bit. They usually camp in our back yard but this year are not there.
    We are tired and achy, too, and can hardly move at the end of the day….but we will keep on doing what we LOVE!
    Thanks for that wonderful Essay….think again about growing SOMETHING!!!

    Reply

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