Common Sense will tell you that the best kind of exercise regime is one that you enjoy, and that fits easily into your lifestyle. Here, at the homestead, we have certainly found our way into a lifestyle that has exercise built right in.
The property we live on is midway up a mountainside (I think, although I have never been to the top). Above our house lies a wooded area with ancient stone retention walls. The water we use is sourced directly from a creek running down the mountainside. Directly in front of the house runs the road, and beyond that you may descend either a steep stoney staircase, or the tumbling hillside. If you choose the stairs, you will find a rustic one room cottage that is inhabited in the summer by WWOOFers, or guests. You will pass piles of wood for burning, and beds for flowers. Following the path to the right, and in front of the cottage, you will continue at a slight gradient toward a gate separating donkey territory and garden, and the great beyond. Looking straight ahead, and walking toward the gate, you probably didn’t notice the crumbling stone walls of buildings lost to time.
The only thing that may have startled you from your wonder is the donkey “opera,” as described by Scott, their owner. Really, it is a sound only a parent could love. They get fed half a bale of hay each morning in their current pasture. At the beginning of our stay, and in more meager pastures, they were fed a whole bale, in two instalments. We probably started off too soft on them. They are like children, always begging for sweets.
Across a stream, only existent with the swells of winter, you may choose to turn left into gardens, or right to climb a stone face, past ruins on your left, and the two-level, terracotta roofed building which houses the original wood fired bread oven. Beyond, a clearing centers on a fire circle, looking over gardens and pasture, and farther beyond, a line of trees borders the rushing river which marks the lowest point of elevation before the hills climb again to someone else’s land. Above, and to the right, you are shadowed by green oak trees that climb the mountain.
I have certainly missed description of a garden patch, or ruin. They all roll into each other, in a magnificent conglomerate to such a degree that you wonder if this is the sort of beauty that one could ever get used to.
But, I began this post alluding to exercise, and that is the only thing that will follow your survey of the land. Whether simply walking back up the mountainside, hauling logs, carrying bales of hay, splitting firewood, scrubbing, raking, dusting, washing, or walking the dog, you are exercising. I think that we were sore for the entire first week. I downloaded a Yoga app on my tablet so that I could follow some sort of stretching program, especially on days rich with splitting wood.
I have to tell you, by now, I feel great. I have burned through all the chocolate covered pretzels, free baklava, and sugar cookies that powered me through December. I feel strong, like I posses my body, and I have never felt so powerful as the few times I have sliced through a log in one swing with only a hatchet and my own strength. We go for a walk of at least a half-hour every morning with Muttley, which is great for him, but also affords us innumerable manifestations of the same scenery, the joy of the floppy eared galoot smelling every possible smell as he bounds down the road in front of us, and the companionship of the other. We have walked through frustration, through silent contemplation, and with our hearts shining the way in front of us, in pure joy.
While working one day, Chris had me listen with him to one of his favorite radio programs, “Science Friday,” with Ira Flatow, on NPR. It is a weekly radio show that discusses science and it’s modern advances. I would really love it if you would follow this link, produced on Friday, January 11, 2013.
CLICK HERE!! (P.S. when you see that underlined different colored word, click on it!!!!!!!!! I have been very disappointed by the number of people who clicked on the links to Chris and my new wake-up music… do it!)
Chris and I have had a lot of time to discuss personal, and American issues including the heath care crises on the rise in our country. We have not done further research into the book discussed on the Science Friday episode, but physical and mental health is extremely important to both Chris and I. We love anyone we consider friends or family deeply. Chris is developing a career based on improving health of the general public, but I am left to focus on you, dear friend or family member. How do we improve the health of our communities? There are still so many questions about what food or exercise plan is the best assurance for health, and so we continue to learn and to share.