This is a hard post to write, not because it is dripping in some sort of partisanship, but because it is about me and the stage of life I am now in.
For those of you that know me, you know my age is 69 and I will be 70 this November. I am far past the spring and summer of my life. I might have a tenuous grip on late fall, but in reality, I know I am kind of staring down the winter of my life. A long winter, who knows, only God can answer that question, but, and this is a big “but,” I have my suspicions.
I have noticed lots of little changes in the last few years, I drop things, especially from my left hand, my fine motor skills are not quite what they used to be, and sometimes my reaction speed is a little slower than it used to be. The dropping things drives me nuts and I sometimes have a problem with my hands not being quite where I thought they were so I knock things over and bump into things. When visiting elderly relatives in a nursing home, I used to notice some bruising on their hands – now, I think I know how those bruises get there as I am sporting some of my own.
The reaction speed problem scares me some – this is all about driving and operating a motor vehicle. I am not sure if the message from my brain to my feet to operate the brake is just getting there more slowly or what. To compensate, I drive slower and in doing so, I am annoying the world. So many cars pass me when I am on the road. The odd thing is I am usually going the speed limit or just a little less. I am traveling at a comfortable speed, but the world is passing me by. Oh well.
I mow my lawn using a tractor and I am ok with this. At least for now, I can sit on the tractor and not fall off while I am mowing. The same goes for snow blowing the driveway as I use the tractor for this in the winter. I do pick up a snow shovel, probably more than I should for my age, but there is a certain comfort in the rhythm of shoveling snow, and it maintains the quiet. I crave quiet now days and will do almost anything for peace and quiet, even if it means more work for me.
Last summer I had some downed wood to cut up, not big trees, but some good sized limbs off a couple of the maple trees. I never went for the chain saw, but used a hand buck saw to cut up all this wood. I like the quiet and the idea that it was me that was powering the saw, not an engine. And also, I don’t quite trust myself with the chainsaw anymore.
I have kind of come to some peace with the weed wacker. It didn’t want to start last summer. Some sort of a problem with me leaving fuel in the little gas tank all winter – oh, another thing to try to remember at the end of the season – get the fuel out of the tank and put in some winter stuff that is supposed to keep the carburetor from gumming up.
Well, I really didn’t miss the weed wacker last summer and I am glad my friend Joe had it most of the summer while he tinkered with it and then eventually, he ordered and put on a new carburetor. In the meantime, I did my clipping with my old grass clippers and I enjoyed it. My wife thinks I am silly when she sees me using the hand clippers. I have tried to explain to her where I am with all of this but she sees me forsaking the speed and convenience of the weed wacker. I am forsaking the noise and the fumes I breathe in and lugging the darn thing all over the yard. Oh well, some arguments are meant to never be settled. I never liked weed wackers anyway. I am not adverse to using a scythe when I need to and I have a couple snaths and scythe blades hanging up in the barn if the mood strikes me.
I have set up my garden in raised beds and I can broadfork the beds or even use a garden fork to lightly work the soil. I have added lots of compost to these beds and the soil is nice and not compacted. The soil turns easily with very little effort. From what I have read, I am actually doing the soil a favor by not getting too violent with it and using a tiller on my tractor or a roto tiller. I am sure the world looks at me and thinks, he is making this job harder by not using power tools or his tractor. Well, I actually thought about this ahead of time in the design of my raised beds and the way I built up the soil. No, I will never have a truck garden this way, but I am not trying to be a commercial grower, just a man at peace with his world.
So, you will see me reach for a hand tool when I start some task, maybe a hammer, maybe a shovel, a rake, or whatever. I am being deliberate here. I am a man at peace with my world – (and I know my limitations). And, I am probably a Luddite at heart.
Take care, that’s what I am trying to do.