My creaky body is not used to this
“Cleaning up” a flower garden does not seem like it would be too tough of a task. When my mother-in-law first asked if I’d be willing to do it for her, I pictured myself plucking a few dandelions and doing some light raking.
After four hours of work on Saturday, my aching muscles and stiff back told a much different story. Weeding and raking were definitely a bulk of what I did, but I would no longer use dainty words like “plucking” and “light” to describe the work I did.
It’s not like I was crushing rocks on a chain gang, either. The true source of soreness was my body itself; it’s just not used to bending down and crawling around on my knees. Truth be told, it’s a combination of the natural aging process and a drop-off in getting-my-handsdirty type of work.
For the first eight years after I moved here, I was one-day-aweek farmhand at Stoney Acres in Athens, putting in a half-day of hard work in exchange for fresh vegetables. I gave this up after the 2016 season, partly because my work schedule changed but mostly because my body just wasn’t as pliable as it used to be.
In the four years since then, I’ve spent more time on my recliner and much less time (almost none) doing the type of work that requires bending and stooping. I still enjoy getting my hands dirty whenever I can, but in order for my hands to get to ground level, my knees and back need to stretch and scrunch in ways they don’t like to. If only the earth would rise to about chest-level, I could work all day without so much as a groan.
Still, the laws of physics are what they are, so I had to make the best use of my rusty body mechanics. For the most part, I enjoyed my time digging around in the dirt, pulling out weeds by their root, clipping off dead flower heads, and trying to separate dead leaves from mulch. At some point, though, around the third hour, my back and knees started to protest more loudly with every bend.
My mother-in-law took pity on me, and said it was OK to leave a couple of the flower beds until the following weekend. That night and the following day, I could feel my muscles aching in ways they haven’t in quite some time. In a weird way, I like that feeling. It’s the type of pain that lets you know you put in some real physical work.
Of course, I could avoid a lot of this if I would only follow certain daily physical therapy exercises taught to me by a medical professional — or I could even do some yoga on a regular basis. But, I know myself too well. I’d rather curse the dark than light a candle sometimes. Besides, it only took a few days, and I’m back to walking without a hunch.
OUT FOR A WALK