At the first opportunity in spring, I'm out there poking away at the compost heap to see if it moves. If it does it means the frost is out of it, so I run to the shed and fetch a fork to give it an enthusiastic turning. Then I spend the rest of the week walking funny and cursing the compost heap, when it's really my own fault for letting myself get out of shape.
I've been finding that as each year goes by it's getting harder to stay in shape, so I came up with a great idea. This winter I cleaned up the garage and turned it into my very own garden gym. It was easy. I tied a couple of bricks to a shovel, and I hooked up a rake to the wall with a bungee cord. Now I can stand there for hours pretending I'm digging the veggie garden over or cleaning up the lawn.
That's not all. I developed a whole range of exercises to simulate yard work. One of the harder jobs in the yard is pushing a wheelbarrow. I wanted to bring Wally (my faithful wheelbarrow) in to wheel around the garage but there isn't enough room. I solved that by substituting a couple of pails for Wally and I carry them back and forth instead. When I get the hang of it I'll put something in the pails instead of pretending Wally's empty.
I discovered another exercise quite by chance. I was in the gym doing some bungee raking and hadn't quite got the hang of it. I had the rake pulled to the limit when it slipped out of my hand and boinged around the garage. Dangerous? I'll say. It slapped me in the head a couple of times before raking everything off the shelf where I store all my odds and ends. Two hours of simulated weeding as I cleaned them up was easily as effective, and exciting, as the real thing.
Yes, the garden gym works great; however, being cooped up in the garage without the distractions of nature I've discovered a whole new perspective on what I'm actually doing to myself out there in the yard every spring. After a few weeks of working out I've come to realize how much stress I actually put my poor body through. No wonder it's always grumbling.
I now believe that gardening is just as gruelling as any sport. Why, maybe gardening should be in the Olympics. That would be so thrilling. Can you imagine the spine-tingling tension of a topiary competition, or the excitement of competitive weeding? And let's not forget the sheer titillation of questionable garden clothing. But then I suppose there'd be the usual scandal over the use of illegal growth hormones (that will be a biggie, I'm sure), and we'd have to watch those hokey interviews with the medallists: "I owe it all to my pony, Jenny, for providing me with what it takes to grow healthy plants." Meanwhile the medallists will all be standing there holding shovels and wearing shrink-wrapped spandex with the logos of huge fertilizer companies plastered over them.
Maybe not. Maybe I'll skip today's workout and give the compost heap a poke instead -- ooh,ooh.