Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mountain life has its ups and downs

     Yesterday I was tasked with going out in the front yard and retrieving two door mats, a decorative flag, three landscape lights and some sundry items of unknown but apparent substantial value that had been blown away during a recent Smoky Mountain windstorm.  Now, for those of you that do not live on the side of a mountain or enjoyed a vacation in this part of Eden, my front yard has a slight grade to it.  The best way to give you perspective is that my driveway drops FIVE stories from the garage to the road and the road drops another 500 feet to the street, and from there you just go downhill until you get to town. (UPDATE: I recently downloaded an altimeter app for my Android phone -- the driveway actually drops 110 feet, so that is more like ten stories, and from my gate to my mailbox on the county road it drops another 530 feet.)
    I had been procrastinating the trip into the yard, but the wifey (now ex-wife) said I must, so I sucked it up and jumped off the retaining wall into the virgin forest (Yes, virgin forest, believe me, nobody in their right mind would go F'ing around on that slope) and began to work my way through the overgrown briers, leaves and dead-fall to excavate and gather my belongings.  
     For the most part, the (wife-valued) litter had landed high up the slope and settled on or near the foundation pad.  Unfortunately, two significant and expensive parts of the landscape lights had slid a bit farther down the hill.  After several laughable attempts, I managed to toss the more easily retrieved bounty up onto the lower decking, and reluctantly started the descent further into the "yard."
     I knew that there was no turning back.  No, literally; there's no turning back!  The slope is so steep that once you step away from grading of the house pad, there is no way to climb back up (okay, you Mt. Everest climbers, maybe you might with the expert help of a couple of Tibetan Sherpa).  I carefully sidled my way down through underbrush to the resting places of my wayward lighting and stashed the precious parts under my arm to preserve the use of my hands as essential braking apparatus against the pull of gravity.  With very little steerable variance, my route was straight down as I crept along the uncertain and untrod path through the dense woods in a general tangent towards the intersection of the road and my driveway.
     It was no big deal, I made it just fine.  A few cuts and scraps, a couple of slip-and-falls, and a fully sweat stained dress shirt, and okay, maybe I was wearing the preposterously wrong kind of shoes, but I managed to scale the mountain, ford the roadside ravine, and climb back up to that celebrated iconic symbol of Western civilization: pavement! 
     Did I mention my driveway drops FIVE (TEN) STORIES!  Well, from down there, it rises those same five ten stories.  No elevator, no stairs, no rappelling ropes, just a concrete ramp that was never designed for pedestrians, let alone a middle-aged, out-of-shape writer. 
   Yesterday I joked on social media about never doing that chore ever again and just heading down to the Walmart to buy new stuff to replace anything that happened to fall from the sanctity and protection of my mountain manse.  Yes, that post was funny, and yes, the thorn cuts on my hands, arms, and legs have finally stopped bleeding, and yes, I really have no plans to EVER venture into that front yard again.  But the real laugh is that in all of the diversity of my education, I have never had the opportunity to study the musculature of the human body, and me being an aging, New Jersey, flat-lander whose virile early years are no more than a well-faded memory; the consequences of attempting to scale my mountain, a challenge that even in my youth would have been ill-advised, has had a few consequences.  
     I have aches where I never knew I had muscles; heck, I hurt in places I didn't even know were part of my body!
     Wah, wah, wah!  Big crybaby right?  

     Remember I live on a mountainside.  The main floor of my house is a full 12' story (18 steps) above the ground level where my dogs need to pee several times a day.  My office where I'm writing this is upstairs; another 12' story above the main floor.  Think about it, I do more stair climbing in one day than a chubby soon-to-be-June bride exercising the whole month of May.  And each trip up or down these staircases hurts me in new and ever surprising ways.  
    Oh, in case you wondered, I am skipping the gym this week, instead I'm going to open a bottle of wine and relax in the soothing warmth of my Jacuzzi bathtub.

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