A little dirt, a lot of sweat

If your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life — Bill Watterson

I love Bill Watterson. I love Calvin and Hobbes. I’m not sure if I love the green knees you get from gardening. But I do like its inference that you’ve put in some elbow grease into your gardening efforts. However, I’ve solved that dilemma by growing everything in planters and a garden box this year. No green knees. Just dirty hands.

So far, the planters looking promising. The peas and green beans are looking quite happy and aggressive in their growth. The dill looks hopeful. They’re just popping out and if they can get beyond growing threes inches in height, I’ll be happy. The first leaves are sprouting in the other three planters and I’ve already forgotten what seeds I tossed into them. I’m terrible at keeping track. One of them has the Swiss chard. I think another one has some variety of bok choy. I think the last one has beets. I’m not sure. But hey, there are little green leaves sprouting up and I’m pleased. My green thumb has not screwed up yet. I’ll probably know by the beginning of July whether or not my seed choices were good calls.

Another call I’ve made is to try growing microgreens. I was inspired by a friend who generously offered me his potted microgreens to take home, grow and enjoy. And as a result, I find microgreens fascinating. Of course, my ambitious green thumb wants to give growing microgreens a try. I picked up some lettuce and mixed greens seeds, and two small pots that can easily sit on any of my window sills. I look at this as an experiment. If it works, I might consider picking up a compact indoor garden unit with a grow light for the winter. I’ll see how the summer goes with this experiment before I decide.

Fortunately, the seeds are starting to sprout. The odd one here and there. Knowing how many seeds were used, I’m hoping the rest will appear eventually. I think I’m supposed to give it two or three weeks before I start seeing anything.

Here goes nothing.

*****

On Saturday, the CrossFit box where I work out, participated in the 2017 Challenge for Life in support for CancerCare Manitoba. There was the choice of walking 20 km or doing 200 non-continuous minutes of fitness. Oh, and raise a little money for the foundation, too.

The call went out to the members to see who would be up for 200 minutes of fitness fun. Over a dozen members — I’m thinking 14-16 but I could be wrong — was up for the challenge. And that included me.

Aside from getting a ‘little’ sweaty, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, Mandy, coach and co-owner of the facility, put together a great set of WODs for everyone to attack. It’s crazy how quickly 200 minutes can fly when you’re busy taking your next breath. There were burpees, box jumps, skipping, running, rowing, sit ups, push ups and the whole complement of lifts – deadlifts, snatches, clean and jerks, front squats, back squats, thrusters disguised as push presses. Yep, we covered the gamut.

After the challenge was down in the books, we had a picnic — a little pulled chicken, some fresh veggies with your choice of ranch dip or hummus, corn tortilla chips, watermelon and cookies. Yummy.

Not surprisingly, I’m still sore from the challenge. But it’s a good sore, as they say. There’s already talk of doing it again next year.

I don’t think it’s too early to say ‘Count me in!’, is it?

Tactile indulgences in the garden

I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation — Phyllis Theroux

When I first read Theroux’s quote, I couldn’t help but think of the moment of conception where the sperm finally gets to fertilize the egg and it’s all downhill from there. The downhill part is a joke on my part. Sort of.

Anyway, I don’t think there is a way for a woman to know the exact moment she becomes pregnant. If there is a woman out there who knew the very second she got pregnant, then I congratulate her. But I highly doubt any woman is that sensitive to the goings-on of her own body on a microscopic level. I know I’m not.

However, I’m aware of the aches, pains and kinks my body experiences. I’m also aware of when something doesn’t feel or seems out of the norm. But that doesn’t exclude me from finding a bruise I can’t remember earning. I have this habit of bumping into and/or doing things that doesn’t make me go ‘ouch’ right away. It’s usually a day or two later when I’ll spot the bruise. Depending on the location of the bruise, I usually have a good idea on how it showed up.

If I’m unaware of how I earned, as an example, the little bruises on my legs, then how the fuck am I supposed to be ‘present’ at the moment of creation, the moment where the one silly sperm introduces himself to the egg and gets to work? Nobody’s that sensitive.

So, now that I got that ramble off my chest, I don’t think one of the reasons I garden is because it’s the closest I can come to being present at creation. I certainly don’t feel it in the scientific or religious/spiritual sense of the word. But if you equate growing stuff with creating stuff then I might buy the idea of being present at creation.

I can see a comparison between gardening and a creative endeavour like writing. A simple idea is all that it takes to want to nurture it and let it grow into something amazing. But I don’t think of writing as a plant. It’s not a natural inclination to regard the two in that way.

I like gardening because I like growing stuff. I like to keep busy with things that give me some form of pleasure. I’m a tactile person and running my fingers through the soil is one of many small pleasures I enjoy. Makes all the other unpleasant parts of life easier to tackle.

Gardening, especially vegetable gardening, is practical when it comes to living off the land. I like living off the land. No one in their right mind would prefer store-bought vegetables over fresh garden-grown.

There is a satisfaction in determining if my thumb will remain green for the upcoming growing season. Most of the time, I have a green thumb. Last year was a bit of downer. Too wet and not enough dry and warm/hot days to encourage vigorous growth.

This year, there are changes in my gardening endeavours. First, I will not be growing vegetables in the ground. I don’t see the point in feeding the neighbourhood wild bunnies that cut through the backyard on a regular basis. The furry little shit bags ate everything that shot out of the garden last year. No point in waging a losing battle. To be honest, the area set aside for the vegetable garden has slowly gotten smaller over the years. It is surrounded by lilac, raspberry, saskatoon and haskap bushes that are moving into the space. Their presence has transformed the area from full-sun to partial shade. I’m going to let them and the wild bunnies have the run of the area. I’ll probably see how the bushes take over the space this summer before I decide whether or not I should plant another bush or shrub in that area for next year.

The garden will now consist of the garden box and six large planter containers. I have seeds I picked up last week. Over this past weekend — for the price of a bag of starter soil which he will be used for next year’s batch of plants — an longtime friend generously offered me a selection of plants he started from seed a couple of months ago.

And there is a dogwood in another part of the yard that isn’t looking too happy right now. I let it grow wild for years and it has always done well. This year, the leaves haven’t completely grown in. Looks kinda sparse, to be honest. I’ll probably have to do a heavy cut and see if it can bounce back. If not, I’ll remove it at the end of the summer and set up another garden box in that spot for next year since that section of yard is in full-sun and I could take serious advantage of that location.

This season is will definitely be experimental. I’m excited about the plants that are sitting on the back porch waiting to go into the containers. However, the weather sucks balls right now. Forecasts of rain and cooler temperatures for the next couple of days. Bleh.

Guess I’ll have to wait until this weekend to indulge in my tactile pleasures.

Happy camper

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower — Albert Camus

Autumn, without a doubt, is my favourite of the four seasons. With September several days away, there are a number of things that are a given for me:

1) There are a few weeks left of cutting the lawn left… yay;

2) The zucchini are done for the season and all that is left are the tomatoes in the main garden patch, then it’s bring out the yard waste bags and clean out the garden;

3) The garden box still has basil, mint and eggplant growing but I’ll harvesting them in the next couple of weeks;

4) The Goodland apple tree has produced a lot of apples. Yeah, I know… make apple sauce. Problem is I’m not a huge fan of apple sauce. Never a big thing with me when I was growing up. I already gave away one box to a friend and made a big Pyrex dish of apple crisp. Just discovered a place in the city where they’ll press apple cider out of your apples. Hell ya, I’m going there to drop off the apples. Fresh apple cider is dee-lish. Had fresh cider made out of my apples a couple of years ago and it was yummy. But the place that did the pressing had a fire and pretty much took those folks out of the apple cider business. So, I’ve been in a conundrum over what to do with the volume of apples the tree produces. Considering I just discovered this other apple pressing location, I’m excited to have fresh cider again… mmmm;

5) This is the first season I’m growing sweet potatoes and I’m looking forward to harvesting them before the first frost hits. I just have to figure out where to put the planters once the sweet potatoes are done. Don’t think leaving plastic planters outside over the winter is a good idea. Guess their winter home will be the garage.

As this list whittles down, I look forward to the cooler temperatures and the changing colours of the landscape that often marks autumn.

Not much fun running in summer’s heat and humidity but I did it. Throw in smoky conditions courtesy of the forest fires from the next province and it’s a party. Running should be easier with the autumn temperatures. I’m looking forward to a crisp autumn morning for the CIBC Run for the Cure this October.

Although, I’m drawing the line at winter running. Given the injuries I’ve acquired over the summer, I’m not keen on running down paths where there will probably be patches of ice. Yeah, I could attach some sort of traction aide to the running shoes for the snow and ice but I really don’t think it will be enough to keep me from injury.

Nope, it’ll be the treadmill for this winter.

One of the reasons I love autumn is the scent. Seriously, all four seasons have a scent, that something in the air that lets you know what season it is. Everything about autumn is enticing. Marks the end of one phase and the start of another. Crunchy sound of leaves under my feet. Warm colour of the leaves. Earthy not musky. Crispness of the air. Everything smells good.

Mother Nature is stunning in this season. On a number of occasions, she has taken my breath away. If it was possible to have autumn-like weather all year round, I’d be a happy camper.