In the Garden

Over the weekend, I worked in my garden. Weeding is something that continually gets pushed to the bottom of my to do list. I don’t know why. Okay, I do know why. Bugs, dirt, hot sun beating down? Not much to love. This time I selected the right day because the bugs were few, the day was cool (and cloudy, so no sunburn), and though I did get dirt under my fingernails, I’ve managed to dig most of it out. My garden is tidy, and I feel much better.

Being in the garden on Sunday turned out to be the perfect way to spend the afternoon. I started with a simple plan to fertilize the tomatoes which have finally started ripening. They look, smell, and taste amazing, but when I brought the first can of plant food treated water, I noticed some vines were so weighted down with fruit, they were laying on the ground. I completed three trips of fertilized water before hunting for the stakes I’d stashed from last season. They are bamboo, barely covered in faded green paint after several seasons. I don’t use circular metal cages, though I probably should because my tomatoes always grow into an unruly, tangled mess, but I really enjoying staking and tying the vines, so I continue with the process every year.

Kneeling in the dirt to tie the vines, I fought with tall weeds. After yanking them, I righted the tomato vines, only to discover crabgrass and other smaller weeds underneath. I yanked those, too, and continued until the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs had been trimmed, tidied and staked, and piles of weeds were discarded outside the fence. The garden looked healthy. Satisfied, I picked the strawberry plant clean of ripe fruit and shoveled the berries in my mouth without washing the dirt off. It felt like just the right reward.

I like to create things, but drawing, designing, planning, and even writing, leaves me feeling unsatisfied. My final product never seems to measure up. The best thing about my garden is the “not good enough” feeling never surfaces. My strawberries may be odd shapes and my tomatoes may not win blue ribbons at the fair, but they always taste good, and I’m proud to share them with others, gleefully acknowledging, “yes, this came from my garden!” I don’t know if the things I grow are flavored by pride or TLC. I don’t think it really matters, do you?

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Nowhere to Run

One of the reasons I love to run is that for one hour, I escape from the craziness of everyday life. During my run, my life is my own. No interruptions. Whether I think or daydream, zone out or absorb the details normally missed driving from one commitment to another, unwelcome distractions are left behind. In one hour, I reset the balance in my life. But in early June, I developed a stress fracture in center of my strike zone- third digit, third knuckle, deep in the ball of my foot (thank you “barefoot style running shoes”).

A stress fracture is not a break. It is a weakness in the bone from repeated pounding, but like a break, the cure is to stay off it. Easier said that done when talking about feet. Since summer was just kicking off, I didn’t want to wear a boot, so everywhere I went-even dressy parties, I donned old running shoes with extra padding in order to protect the foot and help it heal. Desperate to stay in shape while sidelined from running, I Googled: “no impact ways to burn 500 calories”.There are some interesting options on those lists. I chose biking and swimming as my primary cardio work outs. I bought a hula hoop to increase my abdominal workout, and I’ve even borrowed a kayak some Saturday mornings. The problem with these other forms of exercise is that I don’t get the private “me” time I crave. When biking, I have to concentrate lest a car, dog walker, moped, other biker, pedestrian, or a child on a scooter or a skateboard (and most days it is all of the above) stray into my path. When I’m swimming, I have to dodge other swimmers mostly children and teenagers cannon balling into my lane their nerve fraying squeals and personal space invading splashing adding to my stress. Even if I try to walk, people seem to ignore that I’m exercising and stop to chat or ask directions.

After four weeks, I suffered from mild depression and high anxiety, but finally the pain in my foot disappeared. I opened a box of new shoes (with extra forefront cushioning) and walked half a mile until I reached a dirt trail. For two miles, I ran, and happily sweated until I reached my favorite swim spot, but by then the pain was back. It was too much, too soon. This is one of those times in life when I have to be patient and find new ways to achieve my goals and handle accumulating stress. To help relax, I’ve downloaded a hypnotism app for my phone that helps me get to sleep and stay sleeping longer. I also take a few minutes at the end of my swim to focus on just floating and breathing. I use my bike to run errands whenever possible increasing exercise time and lending a hand to the environment. One perk of all this alternative exercise is that I’ve developed uber toned arms.

There will always be setback in life and things that throw me off course and out of my normal routine. The key is to not let them stop me all together. I cope. I adjust. I survive….until I run again.