Friday, May 14, 2010

The Nature of Work

On Monday of this week I worked in my garden. I had purchased some plants a few days earlier, and I had heard it was going to rain the rest of the week, so Monday was the day I HAD to get the plants in the ground.

When I surveyed the situation, I realized that there was a LOT of work that needed to be done.

I removed some hosta.

I planted perennials.

I even turned over some old beds and planted two flats of Impatiens. All in all I probably worked for five or six hours.

Tuesday morning came and I gotta say, I was tired. Five hours of manual labor was probably more than my body was ready for. Or will ever be ready for. I mean, I walk a couple of miles every day and I'm in O.K. shape for a 40-something mother of three, but it's not like I dig around in the dirt for hours every day.

When I got up on Tuesday morning I really felt my age. I was a little bit sore. I was definitely weary. And I walked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Only slower. And without my arms out in front of me. And no seaweed either.

So maybe I wasn't exactly like that creature guy, but I was definitely moving slowly. Veeeerrrry slowly.

And all week I've been thinking about my dad, wondering how he did it all those years. My dad was a farmer. No, he didn't plant corn by hand--he had some pretty cool and very large machinery that did it for him. But my dad's work was a lot of manual labor, nevertheless.

And I've been thinking about how some nights he'd come in the house well after dark. He'd wash his hands and arms at the laundry tub, scrubbing for what seemed like a very long time, then he'd sit down at the table to a plate of food that had long gone cold, and he'd eat his dinner alone while we kids would run around him, begging for his attention. I remember how he'd always remove his hat before sitting at the table--the yellow one with the seed company label across the front--to reveal the line across his forehead where his very tan face met the pale part that had been covered up.

I remember some nights when my dad was so tired that he'd eat and head straight to bed, sometimes too tired to say much of anything. I don't know how he did it. Especially as he got older. The exhaustion must have been consuming at times.

I thought, as I was rushing to get my plants in the ground before the rain came, about the nature of farming. How my dad sometimes had to work through the night to get the seeds in the ground before it rained. About how he had to wait for just the right time to harvest. How he was at the mercy of God and nature for our family's sustenance.

On Tuesday morning of this week I gave thanks that I could get out of bed, that I could move my muscles even though they were sore and tired. I gave thanks for my own dad who must have been exhausted some mornings, but who made the trek out to the field every day so that I could go to college. And I gave thanks for the father of my own children who, although he sits behind a desk most days, still comes home later than he'd want to on some nights in a state of exhaustion that his type of work brings.

I guess it's the nature of work, this exhaustion. And if work brings exhaustion I say bring it on. I'd rather be exhausted from working than to not be able to do anything. Thank God for being tired.



  1. That's an awesome way to look at exhaustion. Praise God for the father's who never quit...even though they were exhausted!

  2. I just sighed a big, good sigh after reading that. Sometimes we do forget that don't we? The next time I want to complain I'm going to remember this post!

  3. Thank you all. They ARE sweet memories, those days on the farm. I may have to write more about it. Hmmmm.

  4. Loved this mostly because I know all the players and because I lived it too.

    Oh, and your clematis is gorgeous!

  5. Yard work isn't exactly something that naturally occurs to me so when my parents were here for a visit I thought it'd be a great project for us to pull a few weeds here and there. A few weeds? I had no idea! Talk about sore and exhausted both by the end of the day! How two workhorses like my parents raised someone so unused and uninspired by yard work is beyond me. I thought it might encourage me to continue in the flower bed maintenance but sadly I have reverted to my old ways.

    Great post!

  6. Your dad cried....Should I even reveal that? Me, too.....