Time to Iron My Hands!

July 30, 2020

In the early hours, before the swallows sing, I shift restlessly in bed.  My hands are clenched from cumulative hours of grasping tools and milking goats.  I sandwich my hands between pillows to remind them to bend the other way instead of eternally curling fingertips towards palms.


I am a tool-using primate.  My body takes on the cast of the tools I use and what I do.  As the season wears on, hands and feet toughen.  My freckles darken.  A friend takes a video of me driving the horses, and I watch it in amazement.  My forearms ripple with muscle like something out of a bodybuilder magazine.  (Admittedly, the lighting was good.)


In my bread-labor life, my body is an essential tool.  Not soft, not mint condition, not still-in-the-unopened-box.  I am getting used up, hopefully in helpful ways.  At an early stage of senescence (I'm 42 as I write), this understanding feels welcome.  My body does not keep me from anything I want to do.  I've also gotten better at adjusting my expectations--if I can't do it, I tend to stop wanting to do it.  Am I under-exerting myself?  Over-exerting myself?  My body is a great guide, if I'm willing to pay attention.  


Even if my hands curl up, and it's a little hard to touch my toes some mornings, keeping my heart open and unclenched is probably the best health routine I can follow.  Tending the soil and the household help me do just that.




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