Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Gruelling Garden

Survival of the fittest. You see that every day in the garden, and not only among plants and bugs. Every spring I barely survive my own enthusiasm. This is the time of year when I'm wishing the snow away and eager to get out into the yard, where the first thing I'll likely do is strain something. I do it every year. At the first opportunity I'm out there poking away at the compost heap to see if it moves. If it does it means the frost is out of it, so I run to the shed and fetch a fork to give it an enthusiastic turning. Then I spend the rest of the week walking funny and cursing the compost heap, when it's really my own fault for letting myself get out of shape.

I do try to stay fit over winter by shovelling snow, but there's only so much to shovel and this year it hardly snowed at all. When this happens I soon start to lose the little bit of muscle tone I have. When there is a lot of snow still around, I'll sometimes haul out Wally, my wheelbarrow, and use him to move it from the pile beside the driveway to the backyard. This way I keep in reasonable shape and at the same time help the garden by extending the snow coverage for my more tender perennials.

Of course, the neighbours aren't too sure what to make of this. Clearing snow off the driveway may be acceptable -- even encouraged, but putting it in a wheelbarrow to move it around the yard does raise a few eyebrows. I know they think I'm nuts, but a fresh lettuce tossed over the fence in summer helps keep down the rumours.

What I don't understand is, the neighbours may roll their eyes at me doing a little honest toil, but they think nothing of someone jogging down the street in the middle of winter wearing pink spandex, shrink-wrapped around too many big Macs. Maybe it's the colour. Maybe I shouldn't wear the yellow ones when I'm getting my workout, even though they match Wally perfectly.

As each year goes by I'm finding harder to stay in shape, so I came up with a great idea. I don't know why I didn't think of it before. This winter I cleaned up the garage and turned it into my very own garden gym. It was easy. I tied a couple of bricks to a shovel, and I hooked up a rake to the wall with a bungee cord. Now I can stand there for hours pretending I'm digging the veggie garden over or raking the lawn.

That's not all. I developed a whole range of exercises to simulate yard work. One of the harder jobs in the yard is pushing a wheelbarrow. I wanted to bring Wally in to wheel around the garage but there isn't enough room. I solved that by substituting a couple of pails for Wally and I carry them back and forth instead. When I get the hang of it I'll put something in the pails instead of pretending Wally's empty.

Another exercise I discovered quite by chance. I was in the gym doing some bungee raking, and hadn't quite got the hang of it. I had the rake pulled to the limit when it slipped out of my hand and boinged around the garage. Dangerous? I'll say. It slapped me in the head a couple of times before raking everything off the shelf where I store all my odds and ends. Two hours of simulated weeding as I cleaned them up was easily as effective, and exciting, as the real thing.

Yes, the garden gym works great; however, being cooped up in the garage without the distractions of nature I've discovered a whole new perspective on what I'm actually doing to myself out there in the yard every spring. After a few weeks of working out I've come to realize how much stress I actually put my poor body through.

No wonder it's always grumbling. I now believe that gardening is just as grueling as any sport. Why, maybe gardening should be in the Olympics. That would be so thrilling. Can you imagine the spine-tingling tension of a topiary competition, or the excitement of competitive weeding? And let's not forget the sheer titillation of questionable garden clothing.

But then I suppose there'd be the usual scandal over the use of illegal growth hormones (that will be a biggie, I'm sure), and we'd have to watch those hokey interviews with the medalists: "I owe it all to my pony, Jenny, for providing me with what it takes to grow healthy plants." Meanwhile the medalists will all be sitting there holding shovels with trademarks showing and wearing shrink-wrapped spandex with the logos of huge fertilizer companies plastered over them.

Maybe not. Maybe I'll skip today's workout and give the compost heap a poke instead -- ooh, ow.


Unknown said...

The thaw comes a little earlier down here in the Golden horseshoe. Would love to have you down and you could get your workout in. The raspberry patch is a mess.

Enjoyed your article David. Anyone who thinks that gardening is not exercise, has never done it.

Jan said...

I have been working on shoveling all the snow off my decks as it melts, it keeps the gardens covered and maybe helps gets those unused muscles working, lol

jills said...

So true, e every spring every gardener strains something except their imagination and enthusiasm. Very funny too.

Anxious ann said...

I just start right in when the time is right without any excercise prep and then of course suffer for a week or so. Ann