I confused a couple of moles yesterday when I spread mulch in the garden bed they’d turned into their own Ryan Expressway over the winter. After more than an hour of operating the Wheelbarrow Express, I sat on the deck and drank a glass of water and pored over Light & Tasty magazine. The moles ran in and out of the bed looking for their holes which were now clogged with pine mulch.
Too bad so sad, little moles, I thought. I love living, breathing creatures, but it’s not my job to make your life easy, especially seeing as how you ruined a few of my basil plants last year.
Ummm….yeah. I’d say we’re even.
When I walked to the garage at the start of my lawn-cleaning venture, a fly wacked me in the face. If this was July, I’d have cussed a little and waved my arms wildly. Since this was the last day of March and (hopefully) the end of a long, drawn-out and cold winter, I laughed and welcomed his intrusion. Same goes for the spiders on the porch and the little gnats that seem to grow out of my wine glass when the weather is warm. The gnats annoy the crap out of me in the summer, but in March…not so much. Just being outside without mittens, a scarf, boots, down coat and three layers underneath, I felt blessed.
I knew I was going to do at least 90 minutes of gardening, but I’d walked to the gym earlier in the day and worked out for 80 minutes anyway because for me, concentrated exercise is what I do at the gym or by going on a power walk or non-leisurely bike ride. Working in the garden isn’t concentrated “exercise.” It’s an extension of everyday tasks like vacuuming and doing dishes, only I enjoy it much more than housework.
The other way I distinguish exercise from simply being active or completing chores is that exercise has no immediate visible effect other than making my clothes wet and gross. Gardening and vacuuming and doing dishes and laundry have immediate effects. They are visually gratifying, if you will.
To see the effects of real exercise takes time, like plants growing in a garden. Just as there are plenty of green things shooting out of the ground right now and it will take a few weeks or a month before they turn into anything recognizable, it takes time to strengthen the heart, lungs or a particular muscle group. But the results (strength, stability and lean muscle mass) are worth the work and wait.
Bugs will come and go. So will moles and plants and mulch. And while by gardening this week I’ve awakened muscles I forgot I had over the winter – it’s like I dug them out from under the dead leaves in the garden beds – the consistency of a regular exercise program is what will keep me healthy for another summer, fall, winter and spring.