Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Working the Land

I'm only up for a brief post tonight, because I'm sore all over and barely propping my eyelids up. I took the day off work today -- a planned day off originally scheduled to do a catch-up with the older kids for whose school schedules I am responsible -- and ended up spending the afternoon and evening on heavy yard work. Several months ago we'd had our driveway resurfaced, and this left me with a little cliff ranging from 12 and 30 inches high at the edge of the lawn where the digger had cut into it to lay the asphalt. Today's task was to break down that little cliff, till it into a slope, and get it ready to lay new grass seed down.

We all have out deeply held yet basically inexplicable beliefs about what kind of work makes one a "real person", an "ordinary person", a person who hasn't got above himself. For me, one of these is doing my own yard work. I know there are lots of good reasons why people hire this out to people with more expertise and more power tools, but I've never had a "year guy" for basic things like mowing and planting and mulching and digging. If I need a tree more than twice my height cut down, I'll hire someone. If I need plumbing or roofing or even certain kinds of painting done, I'll hire it out without a qualm. But to me, an able bodied man who doesn't go out and put in the sweat to keep his yard in order is a man who is passing out of "hard working American" territory. Indeed, I remember with a certain pride in my ancestry and industry the time I was slogging away on a Texas summer day digging a hole a plant a rose bush, when some neighborhood teens wandered by and shouted at me "Stupid wetback! What ya doin?" (Before someone says anything about the white privilege of the teens, I'll note for the record they were all black, which just goes to show that racial assumptions and prejudices are complicated.)

So I borrowed my neighbors tiller this afternoon and got a mattock out of the garage and spent the afternoon breaking sod and moving dirt.

If any of you want to start one of these trendy workout routines where you use real world motions to tone your muscles, I can assure you that both swinging a mattock and perhaps more surprisingly wrestling a tiller that's cutting through thick grass root systems and dry soil, are really great workouts. I hurt in lots of places that I don't normally use in my office existence.

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