Saturday, May 31, 2014

Body Work

I'm tired. My body aches. It's so good.

One of the blessings of Cloud is that there's always work to do - outdoors, under the sun, and in the dirt. And getting dirty and sweaty and tired in the work is a good feeling that has something to do with being connected to the earth.

Today, it's mostly cutting grass, with the gas and muscle powered mower. The machine slashes into the tall grass that has overgrown Cloud since we were last here six weeks ago. I tug and shove the machine into the dense tangle. Every now and then, the motor sputters trying to digest a dense clot of green stems. I pull at the starter cord to get it going again, then strike into another row, watching the lawn slowly emerge underfoot.

I've always tended to like overgrown lawns, but here I'm relating to the desire to "tame" nature. And it's closely related to that other, once foreign notion, of "owning" these cherished few acres of land. There's so much that's anti-progressive in all this, from the ozone-eating emissions of the mower to the ego-centered illusion about possessing a piece of the Earth, but I don't feel apologetic about any of it. Not even about my active consideration of chemically bombing a hive of hornets that's formed in a roof joist of our shed.

It is curious though, to find myself in this "conquering" mind, with these fantasies of "lordship" over my domain. I've seen how territorial Rufus, our male cat is - how he mercilessly terrorizes any interlopers of his own species into his backyard. Now I'm feeling that surge of possessiveness over one's surroundings in myself - and it doesn't feel half bad.

"Belonging to the Earth."

Yeah, I can get that. The sense of emotional attachment to a land (though we've only had Cloud for two years); a sense of entitlement to experience the seasons of a place, as you experience your own moods and seasons; the knowledge your body gives you that not the soil, not the water, not the rays of the sun beating down are other than your element and your substance and the all of your being, in a deeper way than you will ever grasp.

When I get tired of trying to shape the lawn (I know this isn't something I do on my own, or that I even lead. I have the smallest part in this. It's like the spider weaving it's web, or the birds nesting in the trees and rafters, the mice that come into our cupboard and move the peanuts from the basket into the corners of the cutlery rack) I take a break. I slowly plod my way to our little pond, stripping off my sweat-soaked shirt, my shorts, my underwear. I stand on the edge of the deck for moments before I bend, then plunge headfirst into the slightly murky water. Its cold embrace washes away my tiredness in an instant. Can anything feel better than this? The water cradles me and I feel flushed clean and free. I go limp and float on the pond's rippling surface; I'm as much in my element as the hundreds of tadpoles that stir the sandy bottom.

When I've dried in the sun and the breeze, I walk back to the cabin, get myself dry, fresh clothes, then have something cool to drink. Then I go back to work. My body shapes itself to the task at hand, without me having to think about it. My muscles slowly creak into action. My body isn't as flexible as it once was; it hardly ever flows anymore. But I'm amazed and pleased at how strong and sturdy it still is. After all the days and all the years, it has learned to work, and to be engaged and at ease with the movement, with the toil, the slow ache. It feels good.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful ! thank You Kirby , we love Your writing