Two old guys were walking a few feet ahead of me yesterday as I left the YMCA. One said to the other with a matter-of-fact voice, “Well, I tell you what, you don’t do what you and I been doing at this place and call us OLD.” I admired their only slightly out of date warm-ups and recalled seeing each on the elliptical equipment as a part of the senior fitness cycle.
That comment caused me to think a little, because I had just come from a class that had women who either couldn’t get onto the yoga mat, or perceived they couldn’t. While I know that day is coming for most of us, I was just thinking that the “perception button,” seems not to be present as early for any of the farm folk I know. In fact, I know many elderly farmers who have to be forbidden on farm equipment or farm gardens because they think they are as good as always.
I know that most farm folk do remain in pretty fair physical condition most of their lives – or at least, that has been my experience. All those years of lifting, pulling, running and endurance farming tends to make most of them a healthy sort. Of course, I also know farmers who have blown-out shoulders and knees, but they tend to recover quickly from the repairs.
Besides being in just good shape, I really believe that farm folk simply take joy in the physical work of their farm. There is just something joyful about being in the garden when the sun comes up, leaving those breathless streaks of silver and gold crossed by magenta clouds. Taking that first deep breath of cool air is heaven itself.
Of course, there is also something to be said for laying down the tools at sundown, exhausted and hot. Taking that last deep breath of hot evening air makes one really appreciate a cool shower and a piece of watermelon before dropping off to sleep in the easy chair.
So, I guess what I’m thinking is that working on our farm or ” farmette” or even our little backyard, not only gives us strength of body, but also strength of will and a real appreciation for life. If I have to grow old and eventually push the “perception button,” let me do it in the middle of my garden.