Rural Life in the UP of Michigan Some stories about life on 160 rural acres in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

January 19, 2023

Firewood & Gardens

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin0 @ 8:31 pm

My news feed serves up lots of articles about health. How to eat, how to think, how much to exercise, etc. The exercise genre has been especially active lately, with lots of studies showing the benefits of keeping active. Long ago, the experts suggested that strenuous exercise needed to be counted in hours per week to be effective. Then research began to show that less strenuous exercise could be helpful in shorter bursts. Then less strenuous exercise for even a few minutes a day worked as long as it added up some hours per week. We’ve evolved from jogging to walking. I’m wondering if the next piece I read will suggest putting the Doritos ™ on a higher shelf, and doing a few reps with the bag before devouring it.

Like many people, I own a recliner chair, and it is one of my prize possessions. The only time the recliner and I interact is when I’m taking a break, and having that relationship with an inanimate object means we’ve grown close over the years. When the leg rest goes up, the stress level goes down, and we become one with the universe. Sitting in my chair, I wondered why so many of us seemed to need to have a health scare before being willing to exercise regularly.

Even though I’m a believer in exercise, without the right motivation, I think the recliner and I might just melt into one lump. I credit our habits of heating with wood and growing much of our own food with this motivation. First thing on a winter morning, I get between 1 and 3 fires going depending on the outside temperature. This involves carrying chunks of firewood here and there; getting exercise. Firewood racks need to be filled when they get low, forcing me outside while the recliner softly calls my name from the next room. The fires need to be tended throughout the day. During the summer, I’m often out in the woods with chainsaw and bulldozer working on the next year’s woodpile. Many calories are consumed by our decision to heat mostly with wood.

Likewise the gardens. It can be hot outside, and nice and cool in the recliner. But there are chores, especially in our greenhouse garden. So I hoist my carcass upright, don my watering yoke, and haul bucket after bucket from the pond to the garden. “Thank-you” the little carrots say to me. Sometimes I listen to the carrots, but other times I’m hearing recliner sounds.

My philosophy is to just try to keep going, making sure to get the blood moving at least a couple of times a day. Besides the muscles, I try to exercise the old brain too. I make efforts to embrace new experiences, try new foods, meet new people, etc. We humans seem all too prone to relax when the opportunity presents itself, to the detriment of our health. I’m sure there are good evolutionary reasons for slacking, but I’m pretty sure these reasons have developed during times with fewer recliners in our homes. Especially as the decades pile up, along with the aches and pains, the temptation to rest also piles up.

Perhaps if exercising were more like playing the slot machines, we’d all be better at it. In front of a slot machine, when the screen starts whirling the icons around, your heart starts beating in anticipation. Then, you won! Yay! Carrying buckets of water to thirsty carrots just doesn’t seem to pack the same punch. Smart phone developers, how about creating an app that rewards exercise similar to the slot machine rewards. It might be the next killer app.


  1. hello ted, thanks for this. as you know all too well, we both do a lot of the same routines, summer and winter. we both have large and robust gardens and wood piles. yours is much more so than mine. just a short note: speaking of exercise, one of the best exercises i have ever found is getting someone significant to you to laugh as often as possible. this exercises both the body and the mind. from previous experiences with you, i know that this is one exercise where you do not need any more practice, you are an expert. far more accomplished than myself. pete

    Comment by Peter M Lehnert — January 19, 2023 @ 9:42 pm

  2. Thanks for the laugh Pete! I could feel my arteries in unclogging 🙂

    Comment by Ted — January 19, 2023 @ 9:53 pm

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