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 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…