Ever have a time when you settle into your element, and the feeling is so comfortable that you forget how hard you might be working? For me, one of those “elements” happens when I work in the yard, and it signals the start of the gardening season like nothing else can. It’s a specific set of circumstances involving:
- A very hot day, with a chance of sunburn.
- My trusty shovel, mattock, heavy rake, and work gloves.
- A task that is a bit too strenuous, but I’m doing it anyway.
- Enough dirt to smudge my face, stain my ankles, and leave a sock line.
- A jug of ice water to be dizzily sipped in the shade.
Some of my memories of days like these include: creating new flower beds, building retaining walls, planting (or moving) shrubs, pouring a concrete front porch, and of course many, many truckloads of soil and mulch shoveled out by hand. Why do I do this? My body protests for several days afterward, my hands look like Brillo pads, and my clothes look like I was raised by moles.
I do it because, for some crazy reason, I like it. I like the exercise, the independence, and the idea of creating something out of nothing – with my own two hands. That specific, numbing exhaustion is a comforting feeling at the end of the day, and soaking away the soreness in the bathtub is a glorious reward. I also do it because I’ve simply never done it any other way.
My family often wishes I would sometimes, please, just this once, do something the easy way! For some, life is about learning how to “apply yourself.” For me, it’s about learning not to work myself to death. Thankfully it comes in spurts, so I recover by spending a few days with a good book on the shady porch, sipping tea, and the balance suits me just fine.