As you know, I haven’t been Posting a lot in the last few weeks. True, I’ve had seminars in Kenya and Brazil, but my calendar is mainly filled with blanks.
My craft this summer has been brush-cutting and landscaping. I’ve been putting in about 6 hours a day at it—each session ends when exhaustion makes it end. Typically, I do one in the morning around 7:30 a.m., and one in late afternoon, around 4 p.m. I religiously avoid the midday sun.
Yes, I love Posting and love seminar-ing. But I can honestly say that this has given me more pleasure than anything in recent, or not so recent, memory.
First, there is one helluva lot to say for doing outdoor work in the sun, hour after hour, to that point of exhaustion. This may be particularly true for those of us who spend most of our lives parked at a keyboard or parked in a conference chair or parked on a tarmac. Our primal bodies need this sort of thing! And while regular exercise is great, this is of a whole different character—this is really participating in the outdoor world, not just using it to tone heart muscles, important as that is. Second, this is a seriously cool project of my own design; doing heavy-duty yard (farm) work is one thing, and rewarding—but creating something that you dreamed up is a whole different deal. Third, every day brings surprises. Nothing beats surprises! (E.g., I didn’t even know that wonderful boulder was there, as it was covered with brush! What a beauty!) This project started out as a simple effort to clean out a stream filled with debris from the forest in which it started—perhaps 20 years of debris. But the “work” meandered and grew day by day into this opportunity to create a fascinating, enchanting zen-like space that reveals a smidgen of the magnificence of this little piece of Southern Vermont heaven. I never know how the day is going to proceed—how sweet that is. Fourth, this project doesn’t aim to impress a soul. At 64, I still have hundreds of stomach-knotting “final exams” every year—my 65 or so speeches where expectations are invariably ridiculously high and a “bad day at the office” is not an option, and the likes of the numerous Posts at this Blog (not every Post is a home run, or even a single, but every one is the creation and exposure of something that will be measured by an incredibly diverse crowd. I am “my own man,” and somewhat known for my independence of thought—but there are always those external customers, up to 3 or 4 thousand at a speech, tens of thousands here at tompeters.com. Each one is an examining magistrate. Well, there is one customer for this project—me. To be sure, Susan, the artist in the family and a first-rate gardener, offers suggestions, and we and various visitors will use, and perhaps appreciate, the space. But I firmly feel that I am doing this for the sheer joy of doing it, unbidden. Hall of Fame basketball player Larry Bird was once asked what he wanted his epitaph to be; surprisingly, he said that he wanted to have played as hard at practices where not a soul was in attendance as in Game 7 of a World Championship series. Nice.
So that’s the deal. Why am I posting less? Because I’m out in the yard (on the farm) doin’ my thing, and when I’m not in the yard I’m recovering from that work, and bandaging a thousand cuts from brambles (it looks like I stepped on a mine and barely survived, a friend said—no photos attached) and putting ice on twisted ankles and the like.