Getting Old is Easy
It’s hard to believe that autumn is just around the corner. It seems just the other day I was sweating my way through mowing the grass on the first “official” weekend of summer – that would be Memorial Day Weekend for those of you who don’t live in the USA.
I don’t know why but this time of year, the trees look kind of a fuzzy green. They’re getting old. And so am I. With autumn right around the corner, I decided to move some logs to the woodpile. These were old logs – probably rotten now – that I had toted from Heaven knows where to the garden that I painstakingly laid out decades ago.
The logs were heavy. They were much heavier taking them out than I remember them being when I put them in. They should be lighter – they’re decaying for goodness sake. I’d like to tell you they were water-logged and therefore actually heavier now, but the fact is, I’ve grown old over the last couple of decades. Those logs I hauled in and laid around the garden as a neat and thrifty border long ago – toted in a lot easier than they toted out.
After decades of planting gardens, weeding gardens, tending gardens, watering gardens, cursing gardens, fighting bugs, plant diseases and too much rain, too little rain, too much cold, too much heat, frost, floods, drought, deer eating up everything and so on, I decided that I had had enough of gardens.
Enough! I said to myself. I talk to myself more and more these days. No one else will talk to me. Even my kids text me instead of calling me:
Hey dad! U wanna go 2 lunch someday?
Enough of that… back to the garden.
Every year I’ve threatened to give up the garden. Get rid of it. I’ll just not till it up and let the thing get overgrown with weeds. Then I would mow over the weeds with the lawnmower and be done with it.
After year after year I was going to do this but never did. I have come close. I toted the logs away, then toted them back – they are heavier each year – waterlogged I tells ya.
Finally, this year I decided to go through with it. Why? Because I am old. But age brings with it more than saggy skin, aches, pains, droopy bellies, and eyes… it brings with it – wisdom. I figured out that last year I spent about $200 growing about $15 worth of tomatoes- what can I say? It was a bad year for tomatoes? Well, really t was. I am not that bad of a gardener. Just getting old.
Figuring in money I spent adding more topsoil, organic fertilizer, non-organic fertilizer, organic bug stuff, homemade bug stuff, water, plants, seeds, and those kinds of things. I planted about thirty tomato plants. The deer ended up eating them all. I made a lot of deer happy – but I did manage to save a little basket for myself… barely enough to make a couple of BLTs – that’s a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich if you come from someplace other than places where they make BLTs.
A wise man knows when to say when. I am not growing any more gardens. I am not going to feed any more deer intentionally or unintentionally, no matter how cute they are. I don’t have anything against deer. I would never kill one. I would never eat one. Live and let live – that’s me.
And NO! Don’t even say the word FENCE. I’m not going to bring in more logs or posts to build a fence. Heck, it would have to eight feet high to keep the deer out.
This year, I’m older but even wiser.
I’ve forged ahead with my plan this year. I’ve got no garden, but I’ve got tomatoes. I’ve got a new lawnmower and the garden is now a patch of nicely trimmed and nice green weeds. The grass is brown, but the weeds are green. It’s been a dry summer.
But following through with my plan this year was not easy. Not easy at all! Logs. Logs. Logs.
Logs. Those stupid logs. Those logs that went in so easy all those years ago, had to be toted away so that I could ride my lawnmower over the “garden”, which this year has gone to weeds just as I planned. And I’m thankful for that. The deer? Not so much.
Anyway, earlier this year, I nearly killed myself trying to tote those water-logged logs away. I grabbed that first log with every intention of picking it up and throwing it in a pile of trash I’d been building. I could barely lift the darn thing. When I toted those logs in, I was carrying them two at a time, with enough wind left in me to sing “Eleanor Rigby”.
But this year, I was barely able to drag the logs out of there just one at a time. I did four of them – dragging them slowly, one at a time, huffing and puffing. I sat down on a lawn chair gasping for air and trying to ignore the pain shooting through my lower back.
Four logs amounted to but a smidgeon of the work to be done… there were eight more logs to go. I stood there, hands on my hips, looking at those logs like a man about to ascend to the peak of Mount Everest without a Sherpa. Four more logs, I sagged into the lawn chair out of breath- oh yes, I’m old, and out of shape.
But I’m getting wiser, bud.
I looked over at my work and groaned from both my own misery and from a happy thought:
Only four 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”. I do agree with that. If you’re not tough you’re never going to make through old age. Getting old is amazingly tough. Really tough. Really, REALLY tough I tells ya.
Two more logs to go…. I remember I got up out of the chair, wheezing and aching and moved the last two logs and put them on a heap big pile of trash. The pile of trash has been growing now for a few years. The city won’t let me burn it, and I’m too old and too lazy to haul it away.
My neighbors don’t like it, but I don’t like them either.
I text my son…
Hey! Help. I have a pile of trash I need help moving.
“Dad. Sorry. The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…”
I used to love that song.
Resting in my lawn chair, surveying the growing pile of trash, I remember the day I went over to the log store and bought a dozen brand new, telephone-pole-sized -not really – logs, and tossed them – with youthful ease – into the back of my pick-up and took them home. Then I carried them two at a time from the truck to garden until I had all twelve situated around the garden Perfect.
Whistle while you work.
After tossing the logs into the truck, then driving home and toting them from the truck to the garden and placing them around the edges as a border, I went on a 3-mile, 18-minute run. When I got home, I did one hundred push-ups, one hundred sit-ups, and one hundred pull-ups. Then I merrily squirted off the sweat with a long squirt of icy water fresh from the old garden hose. And I wasn’t done yet! Me and my young svelte body went out and mowed my one-acre lawn with a push mower. And after all of that, I had nary a pain nor any signs of heavy labored breathing.
I drank a beer or two…
Those were the days my friend…
I must mention, to keep things on the sunny side of things, having pushed my old flabby body to its limits this year moving those logs and decommissioning my garden, I didn’t drop dead with a heart attack or stroke. I survived! It’s kind of like winning a fight!
Every day above ground is a GOOD day!
I’m wiser now. I think deep thoughts 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.
There’s a lot of things I won’t do or can’t do, 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”, “M*A*S*H.” or “Bonanza”– may the Cartwrights rest in peace — drinking prune juice, putting everything I eat in a blender first, sitting around for hours on park benches feeding pigeons and all the other things that are so stereotypical of aging. Or as I call it “the waiting to die” syndrome. It’s not for me. No matter how bad I huff & puff or how sore my back may get.
I’m never giving up.
I think we should all keep on keeping on and never give up, no matter how heavy those old logs may be, or how out of breath we get – or how sore we get. We’re all going to go some time, but why spend years worrying about it and preparing for it?
A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but one.
Just get up every morning and thank God you’ve got another new day to live. And remember: Every day above ground is a good day.
Life is good no matter what. And getting old is easy if you do it my way.