Healthy "U" May Newsletter
Of worms and birds and rabbits and Spring...
by Hans Wagner, Lab Supervisor, Biology Department
Now that Spring has released her icy grip which has sent us all scurrying for sweaters and re-setting our thermostats, it is now time to delve into the mysteries of why we choose to spend time digging, mulching, planting, watering and ultimately reaping the rewards of our labor. Labor which is fraught with risk from the outdoors we so enjoy.
Gardening, be it from an amateur or an experienced gardener, does not spontaneously burst forth from nothingness. It takes preparation, planning and timing almost as if it were a fine chess game built upon that first opening move. For me, that move was adding real topsoil to amend the leaden clay in my raised beds and begin the process of creating my summer garden that first “warm” weekend.
After having carefully calculated the cubic volume of a yard of earth that would fit in every plastic bin I could gather up, I headed over to the local nursery that Saturday and laid out my bins over a drop cloth (to get every last gram) and waited for the young staffer to walk up. As he approached I could not help but notice the wry grin breaking over his face. You know, that smirk that only a 20-something-year old can pull off when they are about to one up the older generation. With the perfect imitation of Roy Scheider in “Jaws” he said: “You’re gonna need a bigger car.”
“Really?” I said. “Well...I’ll just make two trips.”
He bounded into the Bobcat, and with the skill of a ballerina, dexterously placed a cubic yard of soil in all eight bins. As I gazed upon the re-incarnation of the Eiger in front of me, it dawned on this Engineer that I had clearly forgotten the importance of V in the unimportant formula Mass = Volume x Density. As I handed him a $5 dollar tip I said, “I think I’ll make three trips.”
Once home (three times that is) I employed the 4,000-year-old proven technology of ramps to slide the bins down and pull them into my yard. A yard which is now decidedly too small. For those of us who wear a FitBit to calculate our steps, I can avow that that device is now called a CrossFitFitBit. Hefting rake and shovel I began to evenly distribute the soil to all five beds. I could picture Roy and that young nursery worker saying “You’re gonna need a bigger yard.”
Now, for the ornithologist in all of us, we all know that all birds have wonderfully differing songs. However, the one universal vocal that they all share is the signal for the word “shovel.” Now birds have no mechanical use for a shovel, but they sure can patiently wait while those of us who do break our backs in using one. With the speed of a tweet, word got round the neighborhood of fresh overturned dirt and within a few minutes I had a large Hitchcockian crowd of sparrows and robins upon my fence and rooflines staring and waiting for me to turn my back. At least I think they were waiting for the worms.
After a well-deserved rest which involved a new Summerfest style beer, I looked out the back door and spied a rabbit which had clearly waited its turn for me to turn my back and was now happily munching on a newly planted perennial Lupine. Now normally, I would have leapt and screamed, and gesticulating wildly, chased the future glove liner out the gate and into my neighbor’s yard. But being as tired as I was, I chose to revert back to the primordial hunter that lurks in every strand of our DNA. Either that, or the Healthy-U EI Seminars had finally sunk in. Slowly, all so slowly, I reached for the garden hose in the window well and carefully dialed in the nozzle to “jet.” I crept stealthily forward and taking careful aim while assuming a crouching position that would make a Marine proud, squeezed off a quick volley of fast, cold H2O.
Mick Jagger once said you can’t get no satisfaction. He was wrong.
Later, as early evening approached, and the shadow of the fence stretched to the east, I sat with a second round of Summerfest on my back stoop (The Dutch should be commended for coming up with such a great word for us to use). I looked out at all that I had accomplished during the long day, and realized that the day had not been long at all. Just full. Isn’t it odd, I thought, how the day goes by so fast when we have our digital magic boxes with their flashing little lights and apps in constant use reminding us in some sort of Pavlovian way to respond so instantly. Yet, at the end of the day we still need to ask ourselves where has the day gone? What have we accomplished? But a day in the outdoors, be it in a garden or elsewhere, without the trappings of a bombardment of videos, talking heads and twitter accounts, always seems SO full and never ending. A day quite simply becomes just a day.
Just like when we were all little kids.
Meditate with Beth O'Malley in the McHenry Interfaith
Prayer Room in the Coffman Chapel basement. Stay tuned for a new schedule this fall.
Yoga at Hood
Free yoga classes are made possible by Sol
Yoga. Look for a new schedule this fall.
Hood Walking Group
- Still Walking on Tuesdays
Leaving at noon from the plaza between Alumnae Hall and Hodson, the
group walks for approximately 30 minutes rain or shine. This is a great way to add steps to your daily progress with Fitbit!
Hope you are gearing up for this summer's challenge!