Springtime Ramblings

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There are plenty of signs of spring all around us. The flowering trees on our street are a bit past their prime, especially with strong winds earlier this week. However, they are still beautiful. In addition to the crocus, which are past their prime and the daffodils which are looking great, there are hyacinths blooming in several areas. It looks like the tulips in our lawn will be a couple of weeks before blooming, but we have seen tulips blooming in a couple of places around town.

Tulips are a big deal around here. Tomorrow marks the official start of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. To discourage crowds and people getting too close to one another, the biggest tulip producers closed their parking lots and retail stores to discourage visitors. This year, however, they are eager to be back in business. The largest producers have reservation systems to limit crowding and allow for space for photographers to get pictures of the tulips without getting other visitors in their view. We haven’t yet made reservations, but plan to take several drives around the area and may book a space at one of the growers. The festival lasts for an entire month and there will be events in our town, so we will have a lot of opportunities to experience the beauty of the fields of tulips.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other signs of spring during this Holy Week. Yesterday on our walk we were strolling alongside a small drainage ditch and the chorus of frog song was so loud that it was impossible to ignore. We’ve walked by that same ditch many times in the months that we have lived here, but yesterday was our first time of hearing the frogs. The soil temperature has gotten warm enough to coax the frogs out of their winter hibernation. Temperatures haven’t been all that warm, mostly in the 50s, but the ground doesn’t freeze here, so it warms up more quickly.

The chicks in the brooder at our son’s farm are getting too tall to sit on the roost in the brooder. They will be turned out into the coop soon. Spring comes differently here than in other places we have lived, but it is definitely a new season.

After my wife experienced atrial fibrillation in the fall of 2019, we decided to buy fitness watches that have a simple EKG function, record heart rate, and have a fitness tracker. As part of her recovery, we started walking every day. We generally walk between 30 minutes and an hour and cover 2 - 3 miles. We monitor our exercise with the watches. I, however, have a gripe with the watch - or more precisely with the software engineers. Here is the deal. Yesterday, I dug 14 fence post holes. Admittedly, digging a fence post hole is different here than any other place I have lived. I didn’t have to get out the spud bar. There were no rocks in any of the holes that were too large to lift with the post hole digger. On the other hand 14 holes 26 to 28 inches deep take some work. After I dug the post holes, which took over 3 hours, I noticed the fitness tracker had recorded 2 minutes of exercise. I got an additional 2 minutes of exercise by dumping our compost bin. Later, I got 50 minutes of exercise by walking a little over 3 miles. I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon when I work with the chainsaw. I can work hard for two or three hours, but get no credit for exercise.

Of course, part of what the watch is measuring is how much I move about. I stand with two feet firmly placed when I dig fence post holes. Working the chainsaw also involves standing still. I get a full measure of exercise when mowing the lawn because I’m walking behind the mower. We have a self-propelled mower, so that is definitely not as strenuous work as digging holes or bucking logs.

It seems the software engineers understand a workout, but not work. Actually, I’d like to see some of those engineers, especially the ones that go to the gym several days each week, out bucking logs or digging post holes with me. I wonder if they could keep up. And most of them are probably only about a third of my age.

I’ll keep the watch. It amuses me. If it were truly a smart watch, as the advertisements proclaim, it would be able to learn. My leges are fairly strong. I walk quite a bit. I ride my bike a lot more than I did before I retired. But many of my favorite activities such as rowing and paddling are upper body exercises. My arms and shoulders are in good shape for a guy of my age. But I sit when I row or paddle and I’ve got the gut to show for it. Maybe the software engineers are trying to avoid looking like me.

I’ve got a couple of church activities for today, but nothing like it was when I was working. I’ll meet over Zoom with the Lenten Study Group and I’ll record a reading of scripture. Susan and I recorded Easter greetings for the congregation after worship on Palm Sunday. Even with the spring weather it is hard for me to realize that this is Holy Week. Watching a couple of extra services on the computer just isn’t the same pace as the life of a pastor during Holy Week. I used to say that for a pastor, Holy Week is 50% moving furniture. Of course I didn’t have the smart watch in those days, so I don’t know how many minutes of exercise I’d record, but I suspect it would be quite a bit. I made several trips to the choir loft and the basement each day during Holy Week and I moved my share of furniture. Life is different now.

Holy Week blessings readers. Our journey continues and my watch is counting my steps even though it can’t count post holes.