Friday, April 10, 2009

RAIN DAY, REST DAY?

It’s raining today along the river. Not in downpours, just little spring showers which seem to lack enthusiasm. Good for the grass and plants, but not enough to get a fellow wet if, say, I decided to make a quick check of the mailbox up the hill. Not enough to discourage a robin from loudly singing his sweet swinging melody that’s so indicative of the season. Still, the day is dark and there’s a steady, slow drip along the eaves. And inconsequential as the rain is, there’s enough that Moon the dog, who detests getting wet, will—after ringing her chimes which signals a desire to go outside—pause under the sheltered portion of the deck and cast displeased looks back my way, because she believes that all dog-wetting rain is ultimately my fault. I’d hoped to work on my backdoor patio today—or at least on the planting bed which is the first element in the patio’s layout. Yesterday I drove a few miles north to a building supply store and picked up a couple of 4x6-inch pressure-treated timbers, each 16 feet in length. I’ll use these—along with shorter pieces of 4x6 which I had on hand already—to outline a 16x3-foot planting bed along one-half the rear wall of the cottage. I’ll then fill in the 8-inch deep box with a mix of flower seeds—and with luck, ought to have a nice bed of color by early summer. That had been the day’s plan—get the timbers down, leveled, filled with dirt and planted with seed. But unless the weather clears up and things dry out at least a bit, I’ll have to scrap the notion until tomorrow, when partially-sunny skies are predicted. Yesterday, when I was doing the bed’s preliminary digging, I realized how weak and soft I’d become over the winter. Muscles which hadn’t seen serious physical labor since late last fall are today stiff and sore. Plus my storehouse of stamina is noticeably depleted. Age plays a part, of course; each passing year puts a bit more wear and tear on our bodies, demands we draw deeper from our energy reserves. In youth and early middle-age, I spent this energy without giving it a second thought, as if it were boundless—which, in a way, it was. An overnight’s rest or even a meal would replenish any loss. Nowadays, there isn’t as much in the tank to start with and refills take longer and longer. Still, I believe the old saw that “people don’t wear out…they rust out,” to be the greater truth of the matter. I’ve seen too many 70- and 80-year olds bouncing around like the Energizer Bunny to fool myself otherwise. Nope, it’s too easy to spend the winter in semi-hibernation, like a bear in the den. The fire is warm, the house cozy, there are books and music and cable TV and the internet to keep us busy. Observation can take the place of participation when it comes to outdoor activities. Shopping at the mall, regular trips to the grocery store, and running errands may keep us occupied—but it doesn’t keep us limber and strong, energetic and healthy. Our job, unless it involves physical labor, doesn’t help much, either…and in my case, not at all. There’s no workout in poking at a keyboard for a few hours. It’s also why, after buying the timbers, loading them in the pickup, and hauling them home—I called it quits for the day, even though there was an hour or so of daylight remaining. Until my decrepit body gets back up to snuff (more or less…I’m not expecting miracles) I expect most of these initial workdays will be necessarily foreshortened. Quitting early has its rewards, however—at least it did yesterday. The day’s ending was warm and the rocking chair on the side deck offered comfortable embrace—a pleasant appeasement where I could sip a drink and watch the sun sink ever lower in the west. A woodpecker hammered on a rotting box elder limb. Finches chattered from the feeders. A pair of mallards came hustling up the river, flying low and fast, only a yard or so above the surface but making no attempt to land; the drake’s green head and neck shimmered like an emerald in the last of the waning light. There was a bit of a chill in the air, toward the end, and I slipped on a fleece pullover. Such a simple act, so everyday…and yet it always feels good, a small, sensual gratification. So many of life’s rewards are found in the basics. A drink when you’re thirsty. Food when you’re hungry. The view of a glowing sunset. Birdsong. A comfortable rocker. Spring’s sweet breath. A warm sweater. That was yesterday; today there’s rain. But even now, the sky appears to be growing incrementally lighter. And the eaves are no longer dripping. Is the rain over? Will I be able to get my flower bed prepared? Maybe…maybe not. Nevertheless, I intend to take a walk, even if I have to do so in the rain. Moon will come along, excited with all the new sights and smells. In her book, going for a walk in a light rain trumps remaining behind and staying dry—it doesn't mitigate my guilt in the matter. Some things never change.

22 comments:

KGMom said...

Oh yes, age does take its toll. Actually, I'd say--age DEMANDS its toll.

Yesterday, I was cleaning dead leaves off our swimming pool's winter cover. To do the task, I put on a knee brace, and wrapped an aching ankle with an Ace bandage. That somewhat did the trick. At any rate, I got the cover cleaned off. Today we are pumping all the water out in preparation for a new liner--seems like a waste of good water, but there's no other way to do it.

I would add one thing to your simple pleasures list--a good book.
That's my solace when the body aches--that, and a loving cat to sit on my lap!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Absolutely on the book. I don't know what I'd do without books. I've been a serious reader all my life. There's never been a time—actually, hardly a day—when I didn't read. I read for pleasure, distraction, to go to sleep, for company or escape when I'm sick, and solace when I need comfort.

The list of simple pleasures is long—and I'm almost tempted to say that every real pleasure is simple. I do know that I've always been cognizant of and enjoyed the small, simple things, and that the older I get, the more important and enjoyable they seem to become. A cup of coffee in the morning. Stretching out in the sunshine on a summer's morning. The smell of the balsam pines which encircle the site where I like to camp near the Fox River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

I could name a thousand….and they mean more to me than every dollar I've ever earned.

giggles said...

My favorite kind of day.... Hope you enjoy...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

I'd enjoy it more if I wasn't so sore…and feeling a bit guilty about being behind on my patio plans.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Take it steady Scribe! A bit at a time with plenty of sits in that rocking chair with a drink. Oh how your words echoed my thoughts - last year I could work in the garden for a morning - this year, so far, it is for an hour
That robin in the photograph is looking straight at you - and he looks pretty wise to me.

Gail said...

Hi-
I love rainy-restful days. It is raining here and I just spent time listening to some ole folk music - and I sang along with glee.

As far as the body needing more time to refuel - I spend much more time refueling than doing! :-)

And another funny note about the wood-duck. My husband called me from work to say hat one of his employees has a calendar at his work area and when my husband glanced at it he noticed that the picture on this month is, in fact, a wood duck!! He called me right away having enjoyed hearing of our 'back and forth' about wood ducks. Too funny, huh?

And your descriptive images and photos of your world continue to delight me. Stop by my place if you get a moment.

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I shot two or three other photos of this same bird, and a couple were better, photographically speaking, than the one I used…but I just loved the way that ol' redbreast cocked his head at me.

I will take it easy—I'm too prone to meander, to get sidetracked or just become momentarily entranced by a bird's song or a cloud, to be in really serious danger of an over-driven worth ethic.

Now, as I know you're a bit under the weather, you please do the same. Slow and steady and we'll get out gardening done.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Jain at Bankside (see blog list) has wood ducks in her yard. I'm trying not to be jealous. Haven't seen my duck-in-a-tree woodie since I took his photo. But he's around.

Hmmm…"old fplk music"…would that be like Peter, Paul & Mary era folk music, or is that a geezer joke? And you have to be careful when discussing "old" music with some of us—what you consider old others may think of as avant-garde. Depends on how soon after the Jurassic Period we were born.

Hey, I'll stop by. And tell your husband he can't duck wood ducks—they're everywhere!

Gail said...

Oh Peter Paul and Mary for sure. I have all or most of their original albums - their music is such a part of our life - our history - songs like 500 miles, lemon tree, stewball, The great mandella, For Baby for Bobby, oh I could go on and on....so ya, I am an ole fart, :-) Woodstock Alumni and all... No geezer joke or geezerette for that matter. :-)
I will check out that blog about the wood-ducks.

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

No geezer jokes here, either…just a fellow on the riverbank, looking for wood ducks and sipping a prune daiquiri.

Richard said...

Geez...This post sounds like I may have written it. Winter just takes all the energy out of you. By the time I can do a full days work, it's winter again. And I should add that some the weight I put on the last winter is still there.

At least the sun was sunning here today and I started digging up my garden. Another week and I might be done...lol.

giggles said...

How'd ya know I'd stop back...and taunt??!! ;-) Yuuuuum, pruuuune daiquiris.....

I LOVE PPM...memories of my hippie folks playing them all the time!!! I actually went to see them myself, once upon a time!

Jain said...

I like the idea of ringing chimes to go outside; clever dog, Moon. I wonder if old dogs can be taught new tricks. On second thought, our two would be ringing them all the time.

Don’t forget another simple pleasure: a long, hot soak after a day of manual labor. A book and a prune daiquiri can be added to the soak for pure bliss.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Richard…

Man I hope it was just winter turning me into a marshmallow, and not Father Time. As I recall, it took me until about August last year before I could give it a "can't see-to-can't see" day. And then that blew me away for the next day.

I got stuff to plant (no garden, just trees and flowers) a patio, and to huge sugar berries than came down on a neighbor's yard last fall to split for firewood. And that's just about 1/20 the chores. Providing next winter doesn't get here for about 37 months, I'll be on schedule.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Hey, you do know I was just kidding about prune daiquiris…right? I think they might be lethal.

I've always liked PP&M, and a bunch of the other hootenanny-era folk groups. Of course, about half the songs or more was stuff we sang around the family gatherings. Didn't know we were doing "roots music" just thought it was plain old mountain tunes and church music, and lonesome ballads and murder songs.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Lord, no…I wouldn't forget a good hot soak in a bathtub (or hot tub) for simple bliss. Warm water on tired hide and aching bones is purt near as good as it gets!

Re. those chimes…when Moon was a pup, we hung a little set of wind chimes on the door knob, and would give them a jangle as we took her out. Pretty soon when she wanted to go out, she'd go over and ring them with her nose—TAKE ME OUT—and it's been her signal ever since. When we travel or I'd take her to my mother's house for an overnighter, I'd just take her chimes and hang them on the door; same thing camping—hang 'em on the tent flap. There's a set on each door here at the house. And yeah, she can get to playing it for fun, wanting to be let out to chase squirrels.

Rowan said...

We're having a wet weekend here as well, I'm taking advantage of it to write e-mails and letters and fiddle about with family history and cross-stitch. I'm always achey at the start of the gardening season because I'm using muscles that don't get used in winter even though I walk a great deal and am still fit. It never occurs to me that I can't do things because of my age - I just get on and do them. I intend keeping both my mind and my body active and have told my children to bring me up short if I ever start saying things like 'when you get to my age you can't' do this, that or the other. I like the ladies who celebrate their 90th birthday by going skydiving or trekking in Nepal:) Hope you get that flowerbed done - if not a walk in the rain is fine so long as you are dressed for it.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

Well, I'm not nearly fit, plus I've beat and battered myself throughout my life…and I'm paying the price. Living proof of that old line, "If I'd have known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." I always figured 45 would be a long life for me, and acted accordingly.

But that's truly not a complaint. I've been so very blessed in my life—and continue to be. The things I've seen and done, the places and people, the adventures! All have been worth the way I now feel some days. And I have no doubt I'll limber up and my aches and pains will reduce to a manageable level in a month or two. I'm good with that and in the meantime, too.

And I don't intend spending time fretting or complaining about the things I can't do…but extolling and enjoying the things I can. Life is too short and too wonderful to do otherwise.

And I really like your attitude!

Rowan said...

Made me laugh when you said ' I always figured 45 would be a long life for me ' and reminded me of my mum in a way. She started off when I was in my teens saying she didn't want to live past 60,then around the age of 55 she moved the goalposts and it became 'don't want to live past 65', eventually this became 70 and so on - she actually made it to 88 in the end.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

It wasn't that I didn't want to live past 45, it was just given my early health, later my lifestyle with regular close calls (accidents and risks, not drugs or something like that), I just couldn't imagine escaping death for any longer. And I was okay with that, BTW. If you'd have given me the choice of long life or great adventure, I'd haven chosen the latter without hesitation. Still would, as a matter of fact.

But my Mom was "going to die soon" for about 50 years…and she lived to 94. So I know exactly what you're saying and why you chuckled. I used to laugh at my mother whenever she trotted that old, shopworn line out.

Sydney said...

Look at that robin looking directly at you. Ditto the picture heading the post just below it. DO you use a nice camera or one of the pocket digitals like I do. I have to invest in something better, I just didn't want to get bogged down by something dangling around my neck in the wild!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sydney…

I have a Nikon D-70, several years old and many megapixels under today's standards—but it's an excellent camera and produces great images. (Just look at yesterday's shot of bloodrooot; or the Cooper's hawk from earlier in the month. I'm sure there are newer Nikons, moderately priced, to do an even better job. I've always shot Nikon gear, BTW.

Most of the time I shoot with an 70-200 zoom.

The little point-and-shoots are fine for certain images. And Lord knows they're handy to carry around. They're just not as versatile—plus images taken on an 8 megapixel compact and an 8 megapixel full-size, interchangeable lens camera are not comparable. Bigger is better when it comes to the sensors.

But I have and carry a compact, too. So it comes down to what you're willing to put up with (as well as need) for the images you hope to record.

Hope that doesn't sound like a cop-out…