I've always been the kind of gardener who, at the crack of dawn, has already been up working for hours, preparing the equipment and staging the implements and materials to be ready by sunrise. No project has ever been too big, no soil too rocky, no acre too large. With each successive year, I took on bigger challenges, pushing the limits of my own endurance and that of the soil beneath my feet. Each new gardening season gave me another chance to coax new varieties out of the ground and to experiment with different composting methods, different cover crops, unique ways to continuously enhance my soil. That soil, so to speak, was my bread and butter.
Mentally, I'm still there. But a game-changing injury to my knee has left me unable to walk any great distance unassisted. Every step, even when taken with a cane, is hesitant and painful. Squatting and bending aren't so easy anymore, and kneeling is out of the question. I mow with a riding mower now or, if my pain levels aren't too bad, a self-propelled mower. Gone are the days of swinging pickaxes, jumping on shovels and moving yards of compost by sheer will and determination.
Last year, I decided to remove my large main garden and convert it all to raised beds. I did it gradually, removing the white picket fences in June and July, and building the beds as crops were harvested and rotated out.
Now that I find myself in this new reality and with all the limits that define it, I'm so glad I did that! It's going to make gardening a lot easier for this man who is older than he should be at 50.
But, like I always say, it could always be worse. There will likely come a day when I can do even less. So today, I will be happy that I can do what I can, and I will work happily and productively within these new limitations.
As soon as the sun comes up.
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