Damn Gravity: Oh Hell, This Mountain Hurts Me

Last Saturday, my friend C and I pushed ourselves harder and further physically than ever before.

I set off for my second hike of the spring with my good friend C. After my first hike of the season, Mary’s Rock (the week before last), I was pumped and full of excitement about experiencing some new trails this year, seeing some new scenery and taking some photos to document the adventure.  So, I did some research and came up with Big Run Loop, a trail in the South District of Shenandoah National Park on Brown Mountain. It was deemed an “easy to moderate” hike by the trails book, of approximately 5.8 miles set fairly deep in backcountry (read: bears).

view from the trailhead

I prepared in advance this time (and for that I give myself a huge pat on the back), making sure I had the first-aid kit, munchies, a hat and gloves, a water bladder and my fleece. When it was all said and done, I’d folded and smooshed about 10 to 15 pounds into my small Gregory pack. C and I hit the road a little later than anticipated, around 9:30 and set out for the Rockingham County entrance of the Park. By the time we reached mile 81.01 of the parkway, it was 11 o’ clock and we knew there were going to be serious thunderstorms rolling into the area in the afternoon, so we promised each other to huff it in hopes of missing the downpour (and forecasted lightning and thunder).  I handed C the trail map and we ventured into the forest.

We set off, goofing off and laughing, crossing a small stream at 1 mile. Then, later we came across a couple of (incredibly good looking – TWIN) backpackers coming the opposite direction, stomping up with the path with determined steps. After a few more steps, we heard a loud howl and happened upon the remaining backpackers making their way back to their car. They were sitting on rocks, sweating profusely, trying to catch their breath. We smiled and kept moving so as not to lose our momentum (or as I like to call it Hiking Mojo).

Right before we were about to reach what I knew was our two-mile marker (a larger stream that we had to cross), I asked C to break out the map. I knew we’d have to change trails and couldn’t remember what direction we were heading; that’s when I heard what no one wants to hear when they’re on a mountain with storms rolling in: “Oh, shit. I think I dropped the map.”  Evidently, our visual guide had slipped out of her pocket when we stopped to chat with the passing backpackers.  I decided that instead of panicking, it was smarter to try to recall what I’d read the evening prior about our trek.  We reached a cement trail head and looked for an arrow to point us in the direction of the remainder of our journey. When I looked up, all I could see was a nearly vertical climb. That’s when I started panicking. The guidebook had touted this route as  “easy to moderate”;  after beginning the ascent, I decided it was best to turn back and backtrack, easily making our hike a bit over four miles.

I’ll state now that this was the absolutely worst decision I’ve ever made.

We turned back, crossing the second stream and began our ascent. About five minutes later, a quick glance down at my heart rate monitor made exceedingly clear that I was indeed ascending. And my body was working really, really hard. For the next hour and a half, I pushed my body harder than I’ve ever pushed it before.

My heart rate stayed between 160 and 168 as I took each agonizing vertical step. At the beginning of our journey, it never felt like we were making a sharp descent, my steps were evenly paced and the ground felt like it was making a gradual and easy loll. Not this way; this way was pure hell. Here is a visual of the trail:

Big Run Loop: The Trail from Hell

See the first part of that trail, where the elevation drops from about 2900 ft. to about 1000 ft? That is the part that made me hurt.

Every step was a struggle. My calves burned, my hips ached and my knees throbbed . Sweat soaked my back (and stomach). I’ve done many different trails throughout Shenandoah National Park and never once have I ever uttered these words: I don’t think I can do this.

But this past Saturday? I said it. I sat down on a rock, panting, watching the numbers on my heart rate monitor blip backward, ever so slowly…168…167…166. And then, I said it. I wanted to throw my fifteen pound pack to the dirt, fall to the ground, curl up in a fetal position and pant until I could breathe regularly again.

But, I didn’t. I kept moving. Slowly but surely. I’d take fifteen to thirty steps, bend over panting and find a tree or a rock to lean on or sit, watch the numbers on my heart rate monitor blip down while my thudding heart banged loudly in my ears. I sat or leaned and waited for the thudding to fade, softer and softer. Then, I stood, gritted my teeth and put one leg in front of the other.  Incidentally, each of my legs felt like they weighed a good twenty million pounds at this point.

C and I kept up this pattern for an hour, bitching to one another about how unfit we both felt, how much we hated the mountain we were on, and how we felt like we wanted to throw up and faint at the same time.

Then, somehow, we did it. We reached a point in the trail where a clearing in the trees gave us a glimmer of hope: we could see the stone wall that bordered the parkway! We were almost there.

And then, I bit it. I tripped and down I went. I felt like I was falling in slow motion and the only visual that flashed through my mind was me rolling down that God forsaken mountain and making that climb again. Luckily, I didn’t roll downhill. I dug my shoes into the ground, shook my head, caught my breath and stood up looking forward to reaching flat ground again. At the backcountry sign, I stopped, breathing heavily wanting only to cry. The only thing that stopped my tears of frustration and physical pain was the fact that I’d have a large audience: the large group of backpackers we passed? They’d reached the top of the trail. So, C and I took deep breaths and put one foot in front of the other until we reached the top of the trail.  When we were asked if we’d had fun by the friendly backpackers I responded honestly, “That was fucking brutal.”  It got a good laugh.

I learned two very important things last Saturday:

1)      Always have two copies of the trail map. Keep one in my backpack.

2)      I’m physically and mentally stronger than I ever thought I was and now I know I can push through anything.

Despite the horrific physical strain that Brown Mountain put on us, I’ll continue hiking – though I’ll be sure to read every review that I can possibly find of a trail prior to venturing out.

Advertisements

Reader Appreciation Award

Wow. After a pretty rough week, I got an incredible surprise. I logged into my email and found to my complete and utter surprise the prolific and fabulous Heather Michelle (authoress of Tidbits and Dollops) has nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award!

Thanks so much lady, for your nomination.  You have a fantastic writing voice (and your creativity of topics is inspiring) and I found it very comforting to know that someone else has decided to put aside “the chase” to focus on themself.

I’ve been doing a lot of perusing of the blogisphere and have had the pleasure of stumbling upon a variety of very different writings. It amazes me that we’re all sharing the human experience with words and photos. Here are some of my favorites:

The Shy Comedian

the view from my mat

sorryiamnotsorry

Bikram Butterflies

In Debt, Fat, Short with Bad Teeth

Live Laugh RV

Check ’em out, and more importantly ENJOY!!

 

The rules for accepting this award:

  • Post a link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate six bloggers who you love to follow and read.

Gym Memberships (and their inclusive horrors)

My first hike of the season made two things blatantly evident: 1) my endurance has disappeared and 2) leaning forward to climb a steep grade made me feel as though I had strapped a backpack full of lard to the front of my body. I have never been “skinny”; on the contrary, I have always been slightly soft and somewhat round.

For the past seven years I’ve bounced from gym to gym, intermittently going on hiatus when I decided it was plain stupid to pay a membership when I wasn’t utilizing said affiliation.  I last gave up a gym membership in October (because once again, I’d quit going) and since then, I haven’t done much anything that would qualify as aerobic physical activity. I’ve been contemplating rejoining a gym for a while, despite my general loathing of gyms.

Why do I loathe gyms, you ask?

1)      I don’t like being on display while I sweat. I prefer sweating in private.

2)      The elliptical/stair masters/treadmills are always pushed too close together for my comfort.

3)     Because of the close proximity of afformentioned exercise equipment and being on display, I can’t sing at the top of my lungs without    outside judgements.

4)      Group exercise instructors are always just a wee bit too peppy: yes, I know they’re supposed to be fun and can be, but they’re work. And sometimes I like to grimace while my muscles are on fire.

4)  My exercise mojo is ruined when random people that I know from my community walk up to me and insist on striking up and carrying on a conversation while I’m zoned out and rockin’ out to my favorite tunes on my iPod.

Despite all of the above reasons and because I realize that I simply must do something to better my health other than eating healthier and drinking less, I guilted myself into signing up for another membership this evening.  I was told that I get a “physical assessment” with my membership so, naturally I asked what that entailed; evidently a physical assessment will include pinching of fat, stepping on scales and measuring limbs and my (lack of) waist.  As any girl would be at the thought of these activities, I was thrilled. Ugh.  So, tomorrow, I’ll submit my body and psyche to the embarrassing wrath of calipers and pinching fingers.  And, horror of horrors the eyes of another will see the numbers on the scale when I weigh. As ghastly as this process seems to me, I understand that I’ll have a better  understanding of what I’ll need to do to get where I want to be after enduring it.

Once I get into a good workout groove, I’ll be set (at least for a while until I hit the burned-out phase). I know from experience that getting started is always the most difficult part for me, well… that and going to the gym after work when what I’d really like to be doing is drinking a beer or a glass of wine while curled up on the couch watching reruns of 30 Rock.  For now, I’m going to adopt the mantra of Little Engine that Could: I think I can. I’ll make that my mantra until I believe it and it turns into “I know I can”.

Red Feet, Green Thumbs

Just when I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and dub myself the Countess of Black Thumbs, the garden showed evidence of sprouting!

Perhaps I should back up: you see I have successfully murdered the first herbs that I started as seeds. Everything was going so smoothly, everything was sprouting. Everything was such a lovely shade of spring green.  My basil had started to flourish in little patches, so I transplanted the tiny shoots into larger, colorful pots in hopes of a fragrant and tasty large plant; the oregano was coming up sparsely (yet still growing) and I had tiny green shoots of rosemary. And then, due to my sweet non-watering skills, all of the original plant babies wilted and died a quick death. Woops.

This unfortunate turn of events made me question my new hobby. Maybe I’m not responsible enough to foster wee seedlings and plants into healthy, robust, edible produce.  Throughout the week, I continued to question my gardening abilities. I recall thinking that all of the items I’d previously planted weren’t sprouting, and that I should just till it all up and start over; I voiced this to a co-worker of mine who has success in container planting and she just laughed, exclaiming that I didn’t have the patience for it. She’s right: I’m an immediate gratification kind of girl. And, generally speaking, if something becomes too labor-intensive or gives rise to trouble, I just quit and move on along to a new venture.

I got home Saturday and trekked down to the garden patch after I talked to my dad and confessed that I’d killed the plant babies and that I probably needed to start over in the garden.  It was then that I regained a tiny bud of hope when my dad confirmed that everything I’d planted in our little patch was thriving! I was so proud and excited. The lettuce, peas and green beans I’d planted as seedlings had turned into lush green patches sprouting out of our rocky, red clay soil. The onions I’d poked into the earth showed evidence of being happy: leafy spring green onion tops broke through the soil reaching up toward the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

Then I realized something fairly important that I know will keep me interested in this new hobby:  Maybe I wasn’t so bad at this after all. Maybe I needed to just start over with the herbs, throwing them directly outside to grow in nature rather than babying the seeds into shoots indoors.

So, with renewed enthusiasm, I made the journey down to the garden today. Under my dad’s instruction, I lurched and stopped, lurched and stopped from the garden shed to the garden plot behind a scary, loud gurgling roto tiller. I kicked off my shoes after I the rocky red soil got the best of me by cramming itself into the crevices of the inappropriate shoe I’d chosen for this activity and, stepping onto the soft earth, I tilled (I tilled!!), turning up and weeding rock soil. I broke out the metal rake and threw down beet seeds and pea seeds, and I watered.  By the time I was done, my hands and feet were stained by the red Virginia soil. Just call me Red Foot.

I have renewed hope and gusto for this new attempt of mine. With new seeds in the earth, patches of the newly sprouted greenery in the garden, and ity bity newly birthed oregano shoots breaking through the surface of seed starting soil in tiny planters on the deck, all I have to do is remember to water the babies. And of course, to have patience; that this is most definitely not an immediate gratification type of hobby.  There is a chance that I’ll gain a respect for things that take time to come to fruition, at least one can only hope.

Fortuitous Meetings and Living Life

*I’d like to preface this by saying I’ve been working on this post for days with hesitancy of posting.  I don’t want to talk too much about someone who’d rather not be discussed, but the individual mentioned below did have a life-changing impact on me and I feel it important to expound on that fact. Life is about transformation and experimentation; because of T, I changed my viewpoint and started living.

If you’re really lucky, every so often you come into contact with someone who makes you question the way that you live your life; I don’t mean question in terms of if you’re living your life “right”.  It’s more along the lines of stepping back and reviewing how you perceive your existence and how you approach the new and different things: the ideas outside of the box that you live in.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a person who had this effect on me a little over a year ago and I have tried to live my life differently ever since. This particular person, I firmly believe was put in my path for the very reason of self-analysis and transformation. He was a guy, about 30 years old who seemed to live his life with no fear of the unknown; he didn’t question the “what ifs” of any situation. He simply experienced each new venture with enthusiasm. We spoke for hours upon hours on the phone and the first thing I recall being blaringly evident was the fact that joy for living life emanated from him. He traveled because he wanted to and had a passion for experiencing and wandering. He chased tornadoes because he wanted to and he could. He sky dived because he wanted to and he enjoyed it (and, because I believe he was an adrenaline junky).

The way T lived his life was awe-inspiring to me. It made me reflect on the way I approached life and realize that my fears had kept me from trying and experiencing new and different things. In short, this realization bummed me out. So, in typical Lex fashion, I began to think and figure out why I approached new and different with such trepidation and steered clear of attempting anything new.

It’s my opinion (and it could very well be wrong) that my “uptightness” started when I was a kid. I’ve been told I was a rather serious child.  I’m the oldest of four kids and have been told repeatedly that I took over as “little mommy” to my younger sisters when I was very young. I don’t know why I did this; I just did.  I guess I felt an intense sense of responsibility at a very early age.  While feeling a sense of responsibility is a good thing (after all, it was my serious nature and sense of responsibility that kept me out of trouble for the most part as a teenager), taking yourself and life too seriously can only prohibit you from a range of experiences.

I’ll now tell a short anecdote that very well illustrates how I used to be:

I went hiking with a friend (Amber) and her three young children about a year ago. We got to a point in the trail where we had to cross a river; the kids bounded rock to rock and hit the dirt on the water’s opposite bank. Amber stepped, hopped and jumped to the other side.  I looked at her from the other side of the river and said, “How do I do this?” She laughed, pleading with me to just step from rock to fallen tree to rock and onto the bank. “I’ll fall, I know I’ll fall….are you sure this is safe? That sounds dangerous,” I remember saying.  My new catch phrase became “That’s Dangerous” that very day.

Upon further analysis, I have found that I lived life so safely, to avoid being hurt or to avoid the unknown that subconsciously, I viewed living life as “dangerous”. Anything that I didn’t know how to do or perhaps wasn’t comfortable doing, I considered “dangerous” or off-limits. Up until a year ago, I never did anything outside of my comfort zone. Once I realized that I was probably missing out on really fun things that I was either A) too afraid to do or 2) had unjustifiably decided I wouldn’t enjoy. (Hiking fell into category 2). I decided my view simply had to change. I didn’t want to be the girl on the other side of the river, afraid to leap and see what happens. Even if I were to fall, so what? Would that be the end of the world? Would I break? No. Hell no.

I tried expressing some gratitude to T at one point; I wanted to convey that because of his completely different attitude and outlook, I realized a flaw and was working on fixing it.  He brushed it off, saying something along the lines of “get out of here.” He didn’t believe that he’d have in impact like that (but again, I am adamant that he did).

T and I are no longer in touch as we used to be, but he has forever left a definitive imprint.  Once I realized the things that I was probably missing out on due to my fear of the unknown, I started seeking out new adventures and interests. I no longer freeze at the prospect of new things.  The spring and summer that I was acquainted with him, I started actively seeking out new and different things that I hadn’t done. I started hiking and hiking and me began a fast and furious love affair. I went river tubing and despite almost drowning, I really enjoyed it. I went to my first beer festival where I was introduced to the joys of hard apple and pear cider. I went camping for the first time and found that I really, really hate peeing outside.  I was so proud of myself for doing and trying new things that for some reason in my mind, I’d decided I didn’t want to try or do.  I felt more free and happier than I had felt in a long time.

Now, I firmly believe that I will never jump out of a plane or chase a tornado, or even get on a roller coaster (I can’t explain my fear of this but it includes two things that I am deathly afraid of: height and speed. Pair height and speed with moving mechanical parts and all I see is disaster. Some people say this is irrational. My response to this is: I’ll throw up on you if you make me do it.) For the most part, I actively try not to box myself in;  I actively try not to knock something until I’ve tried it.

Since my fortuitous happenstance meeting, I’ve started to create a list of things that I want to do before I can’t (meaning before I get too old to fully enjoy them, or before I die). I’d like to learn how to mountain climb.  I want to travel, specifically out west. I want to hike in Sedona. I want to hike Pike’s Peake. I want to go to a rodeo in Texas. I’d like to try white water rafting and kayaking.  I’d like to attend SXSW. I’d like to see the  Amalfi Coast with my own eyes, not just in photos.  I’d like to walk through and around 13th century Scottish castle. The list goes on and on. I intend to check off at least the majority of the list.

I have found that once you start doing things that are a little foreign to you, you open up to the prospect of more new and different.  This then snowballs into a whole list of new and different you’d like to experience.  The prospect of something new doesn’t scare me any more.  I want to conquer (or at least try to conquer) the things that I never thought I’d be able to do, and actually enjoy the things I didn’t think I’d like. That is after all what life is about, isn’t it? Trying new things and figuring out who you are.

Good for the Soul: On Top of the Mountain

This weekend, I found myself in my happy place: on top of a mountain. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area where the Blue Ridge Mountains are right outside my door.  Though our Blue Ridge range may not be as tall and majestic as the Rockies, but they’re a mountain range rich in history, color and soul.  My love affair with nature and hiking (that I’ll dive into further in a future post) began last year. When I’m on a mountain, my mind stops; the only sounds are of birds and wind and my only thoughts are of putting one foot in front of the other.

I haven’t been on a mountain since the end of last year, and I decided it was time to start pushing myself again. I find that at a gym I may push myself hard enough to break a sweat or be short of breath, but there is simply no substitute for putting yourself in the middle of nowhere with a definitive goal: reach it, no turning back. With that in mind, I arranged to hike with my friend Chris. She hadn’t been hiking in about seven years so I offered up a few links of trails that I’d been eyeing or had done and told her to pick. She chose Mary’s Rock once I showed her some photos of the view from the top. I’d done this trail in May of last year, my intro to hiking. The trail kicked my ass. Your elevation gain is about 1100 ft. in under a mile.  I warned Chris to be prepared: the trail is rocky, there is a lot of elevation gain in a short period and we may or may not have to climb over ginormous downed trees in the event that we happen upon these on the way to the top.
She responded in her typical “I can do anything” fashion (which is one of the reasons I love her) and it was decided. So, Saturday morning we set out early in the morning for the central district of Skyline Drive and entered through the Thornton Gap entrance, parking at Panorama Overlook.  Emerging from the car, I realized that I’d forgotten my fleece and profanity flowed forth like water from a swollen spring. I was freezing: it was windy and the temperature had dropped about 15 degrees from where I’d come.  I searched in my pig sty of a vehicle until I came across some gloves and then I patted myself on the back for never taking anything out of the car. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if a homeless person popped up out of the rubble that is in the rear of my vehicle.

We set off toward the trail head with excited purpose of reaching the top of the mountain with glorious views of the Shenandoah Valley. Something that I’d forgotten since my last hike however was the huffing and puffing that is entailed in hiking. This particular trail is rocky; even though I’d done this climb before, I found myself staring down at the ground, jumping over large rocks, taking huge steps up and around others. My heart rate began to rise and breathing became labored. At some point, I recall saying, “Damnit, I’m out of shape.” Which isn’t completely true:  round is a shape.

Anyway, Chris and I stopped every few feet (catching our breath), taking pictures of the rolling landscape comprised of varying shades of greens, blues and browns. As we continued our climb, I realized there were no auditory sounds of civilization.  There was no hum of traffic and there weren’t any other people on the trail, so the only sounds shattering the quiet of nature were ours. The only sound heard during our periods of panting – I mean quiet reflection, was the wind. I think that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with hiking in the first place. The quiet. The only thoughts I have during a journey from a trail head to the top of a mountain or the edge of a fall is how to best go about putting one foot in front of the other *cue Zac Brown Band’s “Quiet Your Mind”*. Oh, and then there is the sense of accomplishment when you reach your end destination.

We finally reached a point during our accent where we were no longer on the edge of passing out. Our bodies had reached the surrender point: get used to it or lie down and give up. After about a half mile, Chris and I were so eager to see the cement post that we’d see at about mile 1.7 of our trek. It amazes me that a mile can feel like such a long distance when you’re no longer used to this kind of physical activity.

We finally reached our cement beacon. It was beautiful. It meant we had 0.7 miles until we hit the top. That last stretch is pure incline; at this point, I wished that I had a portable oxygen tank. Chris and I psyched ourselves us for the top and upon reaching it we both broke into  huge grins, dropped our packs off of our backs and slumped down onto the rocks of the cliff overlooking Rappahannock county.  We’d done it. I was elated. There are no words for the view that greeted us.

View from the Top

 

The sense of accomplishment and peace that I get when I reach my destination is overwhelming. All I wanted was to sit and stare into the distance. I didn’t care that I had a blister the size of Houston on the back of my right foot. I shed my boot, broke out the first aid kit and prepped it for the trek back down the mountain.

Once we reached the car, we were physically exhausted. It felt so, so good to be sore from physical exertion; sitting at a desk all day for work certainly makes you forget what mental happiness that feeling can bring about. I’m pleased with myself when I feel like that; I’ve done something good for my body and pushed myself beyond my comfort level.  Despite aches and pains and lack of skin on one of my extremities, I intend to continue to push myself in this manner. Being completely disconnected from the electronic trappings of modern society is exhilarating and therapeutic and I’m convinced, good for the soul.

in my happy place

 

Ventures in Dirt

About a month ago, I decided that this was going to be the spring and summer where I’d turn my (erratic and unguided) energy and focus on gardening. It seemed like a good idea; I’d never attempted it myself and knew absolutely nothing about gardening other than it requires you to get dirty (we’re talkin’ covered in red Virginia mud dirty).

I started this new venture with the same unabashed intense energy and enthusiasm that I begin all things. I researched. I looked up veggies and herbs that grow well in my part of Virginia. I looked into companion planting and heirloom vegetables. I decided what herbs I wanted to grow and I planted seeds in biodegradable homemade newspaper planters.  Two weeks later, I had become a proud herb mama; I had tiny little green sprigs of basil and oregano. I don’t know that I’ve felt that much excitement at something I’d “created” since I played music every day as a teenager.

(These are my plant babies)

 

And surprisingly enough, after two weeks I was still interested in this hobby. You see, I have a tendency to throw myself into new ventures and interests with reckless abandon and within a very (very, very) short period of time, my attentions have shifted and I’m onto the next thing. I think that the only event that has kept me from turning to some other new-fangled idea (that popped into my head whilst trying to avoid dealing with issues that I’ve been repressing, because, let’s face it, that just how I operate) was seeing the physical progress of my new hobby in a short period of time. God bless the short maturation period of basil.

Anyway…back to the story. I decided it was time for more. I wanted to attempt to grow some things in my dad’s garden (which I’d threatened to completely take over in the Eager Puppy planning stage of this new idea). I went to Lowe’s and bought a ton of seeds: broccoli, peas, beans, lettuce, carrots. I was excited.

Last weekend involved a first for me. I “suited up”, laced up my boots and trekked out to the garden, seed packets in hand, trailing after my father.  My dad has gardened for years but the extent of my gardening experience is snapping ripe tomatoes off the vine (so I could enjoy a “mater sammich”) or being forced to (begrudgingly) pick beans and peas.

I headed down to the side yard with growing trepidation as I reached the garden square: I had no idea what to do. How exactly does one garden? If I plan a seed for a pea, if I cover it too much, will it grow? It is alright to plant broccoli next to peas? Does it matter that we have somewhat rocky soil and will that choke out our plants? Do I own a nail brush to get the red clay out from under my fingernails? I put all of my concerns aside and decided that’s what my dad is there for. So I began spitting questions left and right. I looked up from the dirt and asked, “How do I cover up the peas after I’ve sprinkled them?” My Dad burst into laughter. He then said something along the lines of, “As many years as I’ve been doing this and you don’t know how to cover up the seeds? A southern girl like you ought to know how to do this.”  Then, he showed me how to cover the peas up after I’d sprinkled them. If any of you are wondering: use a rake. Once I put down peas, I planted broccoli seeds. Then lettuce.  And then, Dad taught me the art of planting onions.  Then, I planted seeds for kaleidoscope carrots; I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about a vegetable. Purple and white and red, oh my!

All of this was serious physical work. I guess I never realized the work that is involved in the actual planting.  I squatted. I crouched. I bent over and stood up repeatedly. After about two hours of this, my white dog (who, against all protest,  decided that he’d aid me in this venture) was covered in red mud and my hands had never been dirtier.

dirty bud

I felt great. I felt physically exhausted.  I can only imagine the work that will be involved in keeping weeds at bay in my veggies’ home. I felt like I’d accomplished something. I got to thinking about the days when people’s gardens were the way they fed themselves. Would I have survived that kind of life? No wonder the pictures of the farmers of old echo wiry looking people: they were continuously physically taxed.

I really do hope that my interest in this will continue to grow. I’m kind of roped into it for the long-haul (or for as long as the produce lives) of spring and summer. I don’t look forward to the time that I know I’ll have to invest squatting over plants to rip weeds from the earth; however, maybe I’m looking at this all wrong? Perhaps I should look at the impending upkeep as my new gym routine: step, squat, pull, stand, repeat. Who knows, maybe this venture will force me to eat healthier and develop “buns of steel”.  Wherever this hobby leads me, I’m glad that I’m doing it: I’m learning something new and I’m spending more time with my dad. Those are two things that are worth the work.