Saturday, September 08, 2007

How Quickly We Fall

Having had almost no exercise for about seven weeks, I decided to hike to the summit of Moose Hill. While I was reaching for life, it didn’t take long to be reminded of death as I turned onto Moose Hill Parkway.

Shagbark hickory.

Squirrel tempted by crushed nuts.

One last fatal bite.


Walker sees squirrel.

Maggots dine on rotting flesh.

No life is wasted.


This brought to mind the writings of Gary Snyder I recently discovered where he reminds us that all death nourishes new life.

I pushed on up the road and at the steepest stretch near the top my heart rate approached 150 beats per minute. I’ve decided I needed to get more realistic about how long it will take me to fully recovery from my surgery. After all, less than ten days ago I was in the emergency room for a chest CAT scan for still-mysterious chest pains. I promised myself I’d stay in my aerobic zone – 140 bpm or below.

I left the road and started up the trail to Moose Hill Summit. On the steep, rocky trail near the top, it took great discipline indeed to go slowly enough to keep the heart rate down. I reached the top and was not surprised to see the fire tower was occupied. We’ve been in a nasty drought and any spark could ignite a conflagration. It took me over 49 minutes to cover the distance from my house to the summit, a trip that I did in a little over 23 minutes a few months ago. Of course this time, I stopped along the way to jot down a few lines of haiku and to make a few stops to accommodate one of the less pleasant side effects of my surgery, but mostly I’m just weak and out of shape. Not wanting to be too hard on myself, I thought of the dancing bears. We shouldn’t criticize their dancing but be amazed that they can dance at all. My evaluation of my next hike will benefit from low expectations.

As I turned at the summit and began to walk back down, I saw drought-dried leaves littering the trail. I thought of the wonderful recent blog post by Julie Zickefoose (See sidebar.) called “Letting Go” about how summer can slip away before we notice she is going. I thought about how my chimney swifts left – as they always do – on September first, and I wasn’t paying attention and never said goodbye. I thought about other things that slip away, too.


When does youth turn old?

Like summer turning to fall,

We want to hold on.


How will we turn old? Will it strike overnight like a sudden hard freeze? Or will youth slip away gradually like summer slipping quietly, barely noticed, into fall?

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3 Comments:

At 4:18 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

I said good bye to the hummingbirds and grosbeaks, the swallows and the thrushes. They leave much more quickly than youth. It is a gradual process, this growing old. But it does seem that suddenly, one day we all look in the mirror, and notice that it's gone. Just like that.

I hope you are on the mend and doing well.

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger Paul said...

I have no proof but a strong suspicion that, regardless of how we turn old, it's a good turn if we choose. Life improves with age. That's been my experience. Hope you find that to be true also.

 
At 12:40 AM, Blogger Wenda said...

Last night, and not for the first time, I thought about how I am now the age my mother was when I thought she was old and I realize, with a tinge of sadness, how young, she too, probably still felt, looking out from the inside.

 

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