Everyday Adventures: Manly Gardening

  • The Everyday Adventures series focuses on the adventures we have on a day-to-day basis, not necessarily out on the trail or climbing a mountain. Life is an adventure!
View of a Farm

View across a horse pasture.

Early Saturday Morning

Sun peaked in through the curtains making the room fairly bright for 7:45am on a Saturday morning. School was out for the summer and my teenage body was loving the extra sleep. I rolled over to face the wall and drifted in and out of sleep. Faintly, I could hear my father’s voice, “Alex, I told you to get up fifteen minutes ago.”

The bed was so comfortable, the temperature was perfect, and I could hear birds singing outside. When I tried to wake up, it felt as if sleep was physically pulling at my body; beckoning me not to go. I gave in and sank back into sleep’s grasp.

Suddenly, I was jarred awake. The temperature was no longer perfect. I turned over to see my father holding my blankets in his hand glaring at me. Since I was on the top bunk, his eyes were nearly level with mine. He dropped the blankets to the floor and said, “The longer you stay in bed, the hotter it gets outside and we have a lot of work to do.” He walked out of the room.

My teenage mind immediately interpreted this statement to mean that I could stay in bed as long as I wanted as long as I didn’t mind dealing with the heat. I rolled back over, curled myself into the fetal position to stay warm without my blankets, and went back to sleep.

Hard Work

My father has a small farm and I still remember each Saturday morning him having to drag me out of bed as I clutched my pillows. Hard work is something that many people do their best to avoid. In this case, I am specifically referring to physically demanding work, but it is true for most work. I sometimes joke that our best advances in technology have come from humans’ desire to do less work. Over time, I have come to enjoy hard work, but I have to admit that I did not always.

Now that all of his children have moved out, my father sometimes still requests that we come home to help on the farm. I try to oblige whenever possible since it is a lot of work for just my mother and father.

A few weeks ago, I, along with my siblings, were all staying with my parents for Easter Weekend. My father took full advantage of this by having my brother and me help him with work.

Hard Work

Hard Work

The Task

When this house had been built, the builders had laid the small retaining-wall of landscaping timbers on top of the edge of the back sidewalk instead of in the dirt of the garden. The timbers had rotted over time, as most wood does. Our task was to remove the old, rotten timbers and replace them.

This task turned out to not be as simple as it sounds. As we found out, when the builders had poured the concrete for the sidewalk, they had actually inserted metal spikes into the edge of it. They then attached the timbers on the sidewalk onto these. Furthermore, since the previous timbers had been built on the sidewalk and the garden had then been filled and used for years, there was almost two tons of excess dirt that needed to be removed. This was the only way that we could move the timbers the six inches into the garden to get them off the sidewalk. To add icing to this cake, there had also been small trees planted in this garden at one point and their stumps would need to be removed.

Wisdom Before Beauty

The work was grueling. The metal spikes made it difficult to remove the old timbers. Then we had to break the spikes off at the base. We also had to shovel roughly 1600 pounds of dirt by hand into a trailer on our tractor (while making sure not to damage my mother’s flower bulbs).

When it came time to remove the first stump, my brother was on pick axe duty. He kept trying to dig around the stump by using the pick axe to scrape dirt out from around the roots. My father kept telling him to swing it and use more force. To my brother, this advice was a personal criticism and he continued to grow more and more frustrated. Finally, he blurted out, “If you think you know how to do it, why don’t you do it yourself?”

The gauntlet had been thrown down. The 6-foot-tall, stocky college-student puffed out his chest and stared down his gray-haired father. I stopped my work and looked at them. The tension in the air was tangible. It was one of those defining moments where the son thinks, “I’m a man now. I know better than dad.”

“Fine, I will,” replied my father. He grabbed the pick axe from my brother, raised it high above his head and swung it with all his might into the ground. An audible crack resounded at the collision. He pried back the pick axe, reached down, picked up the stump, and tossed it to my awe-struck brother. He then laid down the pick axe and walked back to his area to continue cutting timbers. I smiled to myself and tossed another load of dirt into the trailer.

Daffodils

Flowers with the new timbers.

Conclusion

They say, “A little hard work never killed anyone.” I find this statement humorous, because I’m sure that you could find an example where someone died doing hard work. The sentiment is true though. We should not shy away from hard work. It can leave us feeling accomplished and satisfied. We worked on this project until after dark to ensure that it was completed. We didn’t want to give up! Not to mention that we later found out that my brother had been working all day while sick with strep throat (kudos to him for powering through). That night our whole family sat around the dinner table laughing, enjoying each others’ company, and eating a well-deserved meal.

So get out there and enjoy your hard work. Life is an adventure!

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Word of the Week: Boredom

Daffodils

Boredom

[bawr-duh m, bohr-]
noun
1. the state of being bored; tedium; ennui.

Bored

[bawr, bohr]
verb (used with object), bored, boring.
1. to weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions, etc.:

“Back in my Day”

Growing up I was not allowed to say that I was bored. My father told me that there is never a reason to be bored. Life has too much to offer. Being someone who was home-schooled due to my hyperactivity in grade-school, this was a pretty difficult thing for me to grasp. I constantly craved input and stimulation to stay interested. How could I possibly have fun in the middle of nowhere, out in the woods, without my Gameboy in my hands, or at my parents’ get-together when no other children would be present? I couldn’t even sit through a full play-through of a board game.

It’s a Choice

The change has come slowly, but as I have matured, I have come to understand what my father meant. Every moment has so much to offer. All of our lives are finite and boredom is a choice. Do you want to spend your life bored?

Reluctantly, I started trying to focus more on the moment. I paid more attention to the conversations that my parents and their adult friends were having instead of wishing I was anywhere but there. Now and then I would even join in on a conversation with a “grown-up.” Because of this, I ended up learning a lot from them, passing the time much more enjoyably, and even learning conversational skills that have helped me all through my adult-life and professional career.

There are still lingering effects of my hyperactivity (I’ve never finished a full game of Monopoly), but I’ve come to learn that life really is an adventure and I’m going to make the most of every moment!

What about you?

Enjoying a morning cup of coffee while breathing in the fresh air of the woods

Featured Adventure: Hocking Hills

Gorge Overlook Sign and Waterfall

A sign and waterfall on the trail

An Ohio Treasure

Named after a shortened version of the Hockhocking River, Hocking Hills is a spectacular outdoors experience. The State Park is located in Southern Ohio near Logan (in between Chillicothe and Athens). The park consists of five primary areas Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Rockhouse, and Cantwell Cliffs, as well as Conkle’s Hollow, a Nature Preserve. The trails are extremely well-kept, well-marked, and well-traveled. There is parking near each area and the main attractions can all be viewed with just a short hike. These trails can be completed by those of any skill level. For hikers looking for more of a challenge, many of the trails can be linked together to form longer, loop hikes.

Posing with my hiking dog

Posing with my hiking dog

 My Trip

I spent three days hiking all of the major trails in Hocking Hills. Sure, it could have been done in much less time, but I enjoyed taking in the sites, taking long breaks on the trail, and soaking up the sun on some of the nicest days so far this year. It was a leisurely vacation in which we stayed in a modern cabin rather than a tent.

Some people may consider Hocking Hills to be “touristy,” but to skip this adventure because of that would be a mistake. Hocking Hills has something to offer everyone. It can be a great family adventure for the young and old. Because the trails are shorter and well-kept, it’s easily accessible to almost everyone. The Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve and a couple other areas of the park are even wheel chair accessible. Venturing down the path in the gorge, you may feel as if you have walked into another world (Middle Earth maybe?)

Moss Covered Rocks

A trip to Middle Earth?

The Experience

I carried a small day pack (loaded with far more gear, water, and snacks than necessary, per my usual style). The trails are typically not strenuous although there can be a lot of elevation change, roots, and rocks along the way. We had quite a bit of rain in the weeks leading up to the trip which made the paths pretty muddy, but it also made the creeks and waterfalls spectacular. My dog, Ruby, absolutely loved the trails. She can typically be somewhat prissy with water, but was so excited  on the trail that she happily charged right through the mud puddles and creeks. I’m convinced she walked twice as many miles as I did, because she kept going on ahead and then coming back to see what was taking me so long; essentially walking each segment of the trail twice.

Hiking with my dog

On the trail with my faithful companion

My favorite hike of the trip was a 6.2 mile loop that we did. We started at Old Man’s Cave then headed down into the gorge and followed the path to Cedar Falls. From there, we climbed stairs out of the gorge and crossed a suspension bridge (that Ruby was not fond of at all) to a rim trail above the gorge. This trail winds around the gorge until it comes to Rose Lake, a beautiful lake with boating, fishing, and additional hiking trails. It then returns to the visitor center at Old Man’s Cave.

Rose Lake

Rose Lake

Conclusion

I had a wonderful trip and was blessed with amazing weather. There is no other way to say it, if you have never been to Hocking Hills, you need to go. It is a great experience and some of the most beautiful scenery that Ohio has to offer. It’s close enough for a day trip from most places in Ohio. If you do plan to stay, there are plenty of great accommodations whether you prefer a lodge, a cabin, or camping. So get out and have your own adventure!

To find out more about Hocking Hills check out: http://www.thehockinghills.org/

Word of the Week: Adventure

Backpacking

What is an Adventure?

adventure

/ədˈvɛntʃə/

noun

1. a risky undertaking of unknown outcome
2. an exciting or unexpected event or course of events
3. a hazardous financial operation; commercial speculation


Introduction

As I start writing an adventure blog, I find it fitting for the first entry to be about the definition of an adventure. So what is an adventure? The term can mean many different things depending on who you ask. Furthermore, what an individual feels is an adventure can change over time. One of my favorite books starts off with a discussion about adventure:

 We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Hobbit

For anyone who has read The Hobbit, you already know that by the end of the book Bilbo has changed his thoughts on adventures. 

 My Adventures

I have been adventurous since I was young. Initially, my adventures consisted of exploring a “forest” of giant forsythia bushes in my parents back yard. I found amazing rocks and “artifacts.” I felt like I was in a different world. When we are young, everything feels new and exciting (mostly because it is new to us), but as we get older, it can be harder to capture that feeling. To me, that is what adventure means. It is a quest to recapture that awe and wonder felt at exploring something fantastic.

 

So come, won’t you join me on this adventure?