25 or 71?

For years I’ve told people: “The last time I looked, I was 25.”  Guess I haven’t been looking too often.

My wee backyard slopes up to a farmer’s field.  A couple of weeks ago, huge machines came by and hustled the crop of winter wheat off the earth.  I had enjoyed the waving strands and was feeling a little naked about it all.

Offending my sense of the flow of land was a border between grass and stubble: two feet of eighteen-inch-tall weeds.  Although cute white butterflies often floated over the fifty-foot length, I decided that action was required.  “I’ll chop ’em down!”

Lacking a shovel in my relatively new condo life (each of us has a separate building), I borrowed one from my always helpful neighbour.  Two days ago, I set to the task.  Moderate morning temperature, lots of sun, lots of water, and a sweatband adorning my forehead.  “I can do this.”

Being a relatively intelligent person, I got the hose out for plenteous watering.  “Look at how I’m softening the soil.  This is easy.”  Indeed, the shovel found its mark with aplomb, over and over again.  But there were so many overs and overs, and my breaks in the shade gradually grew.  Fifty feet looked like a marathon.

But I did it!  In a tidy three hours.  I had visions of bagging the resulting greens shortly thereafter, but my breathing was a mite heavy, as were my legs.  “Tomorrow.”

Early afternoon I pulled the covers up to my chin and snoozed for an hour.  Then a ninety-minute Zoom call with the Evolutionary Collective.  After that, I contemplated some meditation, maybe reading some more of Stephen King’s The Stand.  The answer to both came back clearly … “No.”  I was dull of body and spirit.

Yesterday morning dawned as a perfect bagging day … not too hot, and ripe with the thrill of accomplishment.  I started bending over to pick up the branches, the roots and the dirt.  I enlisted a dolly to transport each full bag to the side of the house.  “See how I’m saving energy?  What a good boy am I!”

I lasted eight bags full, a task which somehow took almost two hours.  “Hmm.  Thought I’d last longer than this.  Oh well.  I’ll call it a morning.”  And so to bed … for more than two hours.  Then another Zoom call.  In the evening, I watched Alice In Wonderland but I could barely keep my eyes open for her return up the rabbit hole.

Nine hours later, I awoke.  As far as I can recollect, that was this morning.  Everything in the lower half ached.  Basic bathroom tasks were problematic.  Walking was a pale version of Bruceness.  The eyes appeared to be laden with lead weights.

Essentially I’ve stumbled through my day with scarcely a glance towards the backyard.  My bed welcomed me for yet another two hours.  Is this my future – professional napping?  And another question … how exactly have I been able to gather mind and body sufficiently to write this post?  Must be divine intervention.

Back to the original question.  25 or 71?  Well, right now it feels more like 93.

Could it be that I’m aging?
Could it be that this is just fine?
Yes, that certainly could be

Take kindly the counsel of the years
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth

Desiderata

 

Still The Same

Such a wonderful face, their mother’s.  As a younger woman she’d been beautiful, far more beautiful than Laurel, more so than any of her daughters, with the possible exception of Daphne.  She certainly wouldn’t have had directors pushing her towards character roles.  But one thing you could bank on was that beauty – the sort that came with youth – didn’t last, and their mother had grown old.  Her skin had sagged, spots had appeared, along with mysterious puckers and discolorations.  Her bones had seemed to subside as the rest of her shrank and her hair frayed to nothing.  But still that face remained, every aspect bright with mischief, even now.  Her eyes, though tired, had the glint of one who never stopped expecting to be amused, and her mouth turned up at the corners as if she’d just remembered a joke.  It was the sort of face that drew strangers, that enchanted them and made them want to know her better.  The way she had of making you feel, with a slight twitch of the jaw, that she too had suffered as you did, that everything would be better now simply for having come within her orbit.  That was her real beauty – her presence, her joy, her magnetism.  That, and her splendid appetite for make-believe.

(I wrote this down more than a year ago, but I can’t remember the author.)

***

Old French Lane

Seven jewels lie in the channel
South of England’s shores
Where you and I once walked together
Where I’ll walk no more

Hand in hand we would go
In the sun and in the rain
Through the streets of St. Helier
Down the Old French Lane

With Jersey sunshine falling on your hair
Shines in strands of red and gold
And eyes of green like the emerald sheen
Of your ancestral home

That was so long ago
Red and gold turn silver now
But eyes of green will never change
In my memory somehow

***

“She’s an attractive woman.”  So said a friend about another friend, who’s in her 50’s.  Yes, our faces are no longer as smooth and upright as a 20-year-old’s.  Under the chin, the skin dangles.  But the eyes still shine.  The smile appears at the flimsiest excuse.  And the soul so often comes to the surface for all to see.