I had intended a rant about how much I despise the month of April. How I am not a fan of this supposed period of transformation. How I have traumatic recollections of early April snowstorms. Brothers moved on, trying to convince my parents that it will melt so no need to shovel. Lest we forget, soggy trail, winds cooling the warmth of the sunshine, and mud. So much mud. A random warm day fools us. Small green shoots reaching through dead leaves. Only to be shocked by a dusting of snow the next morning. I don’t feel the surge of energetic renewal that winter haters experience.
I’m currently stymied in my diatribe by consistent sunshine and warming temperatures. It seems to me that my resentment and sarcasm around spring were more suited to mid-March. The big melt occurred in 36 hours thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures and gale-force winds. Our three-foot snowdrifts evaporated while I made tea. Unveiled were dog shit deposits, concentrated at the end of the snow trenches we had thoughtfully dug for their convenience during snowmaggedon. Along with sections of shingles the wind had ripped off our roof, and a collection of branches strewn throughout the property thanks to weeks of snow squalls and 60 km gusts. And soggy grey brown fields. I prefer crisp and white.
Now the grass is green. The thick woolen blankets are no longer on the chairs around our fire pit. I’m tempted by pots of pansies at the garden centre. The deep purple peony shoots are stretching through the bark chips. I decided to do a quick weight workout before heading out to rake. Despite my son’s warning that this weather was likely a head-fake, I wanted to believe. I needed to get my hands into the ground. My skepticism had morphed into urgency.
Using our indoor putting green as my mat, laptop perched on a couch cushion in front of me, with buff Ben demonstrating the exercise sequence, I select four grey iron weights and place them in easy reach. A set of medium and a set of heavy. I need maximum effort in minimum time. I’m going out to garden, then hike. To be followed by meal preparations and appetizers on the deck.
The warm-up routine hums in front of me, jumping jacks, bear crawls and lunges. Then it’s time for weighted squats. I lean over to pick up my 15-pound dumbbells. (I used to use 20’s.) I feel a stab of pain radiate across my lower back that takes my breath away. I am afraid to stand up. Fear doesn’t matter – I can’t stand up. The weights, barely off the ground, settle back down into the green mat. My workout buddy – my husband – gently helps me straighten enough to shuffle to the stairs. We stand at the top discussing techniques for descent given I can barely lift my feet to clear the low pile carpet. Eventually we make it down and to the couch. I select the firm one that faces the valley. And contemplate what if any position would ease the throbbing in my back. It creeps around my hips and into my lower belly.
I don’t do convalescence well. I am a participant, now forced to be an observer. My family, aware of this, circles at a distance. Appearing with ice packs, pillows and tea, then retreating.
The hike happens without me. I battle a wave of self-pity, mixed with admonishments of my carelessness. I consult Dr. Google. It seems I have a deadlift back strain. Caused by ego and
improper execution. Blind ambition and speed are not recommended for weight workouts. I am to ice frequently for the first 48 hours, followed by heat applied several times daily for another 48. Add pain killers with a pinch of gentle yoga. That is 96 hours of self-care and rest. I have been forced into an abrupt halt.
I reflect on my commitment of a week ago to self-nurturing and slowing down. What was once optional is now an imperative. I seek and unearth peacefulness in not doing. I enjoy the windless sunshine on my body from my inside perch. I download a novel on my e-reader. I devour it and add another the next morning. By tuning in to my body, I curate nests of blankets, an ice pack, and lumbar cushions that wrap me in comfort. I am grateful for the buzz in the kitchen and the appearance of meals on the table. We play loud music and word games after dinner. Eager to dance, I watch the girls and sing along. The shards of bark, small sticks, kindling, socks and single shoes gleefully found and left in the middle of the living room rug by our newest puppy bring a smile to my face. Instead of a sigh and revving of the vacuum as I clean up, yet again. It’s the most relaxing long weekend I can remember.
While I don’t recommend my path to stillness, I strongly encourage a designated time and space for slowing down. The gifts are moments of noticing. Moments of self-nurturing. And unexpected moments of appreciation.
At least, that is my experience.