Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A typical garden on our walk
Every morning, as part of my senior fitness program, I get up at six in order to walk at seven with my friend and neighbor, Rosemary. Although we are both retired, we walk early to beat the heat. Before I leave the house I turn on the whole house fan, and by the time I get home an hour later, it is time to close up the house and turn off the fan, as the temperature outside is already rising to a less than comfortable level.

Rosemary is walking as part of her training for a pilgrimage across Spain. I am walking to stave off old age. This week Rosemary is off learning Spanish. I am forced to exert enormous amounts of self discipline, and walk on my own. So far, two days out of two, I have done that.

Later in the day, when I treat myself to something delicious and sinful, I justify my excesses by the fact that I have walked. When my children succumb to the temptation to raise their parents, I can tell them that I have walked. We’re proud of you, they say.

We pass some spectacular yards and gardens on our walk. I am impressed by the creativity and talent of my neighbors. My plants struggle to survive. If there were a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants, I think my plants would turn me in.

Inspired by my neighbors, Fred and I bought some plants in pots. We think our soil is unhealthy,

home to lots of moles and gophers and other root eating creatures. Pots supply the instant gratification we crave – none of this waiting for seeds to germinate. We have lined our walk with gopher-proof wine barrels and deer resistant flowering plants in pots.

Our friendly gophers

Each day we are barked at or sniffed by dogs, glared at by families of wild turkeys, honked at by families of geese. We watch some neighbors retrieve their morning papers, and others leave for work. We gloat a bit that we don’t have to do that any more, although both of us secretly miss the work we did. As we discuss our plans for the day, we marvel at how very full our days are, and wonder how we ever had time for work in the first place.

Soon Rosemary will be walking with her backpack. Not me. I shall admire her stamina in much the same way as I admire my neighbors’ gardens.

Rosemary, next week