“Things we used to do all day, now take us all day to do.” Said by a fifty-something couple this past weekend.
Saturday, my wife and I drove to my father’s home to help him clear some brush, so his drive way would be clear this winter. The temp was about 85 degrees F with moderate humidity and a light breeze. We both stretched properly before we started to work.
Okay, a little back ground is in order. My father lives in the middle of the woods with a state forest on two sides. He and my mother carved their homestead out of the woods several years before my mother passed away. The driveway is about 300 yards long and winds through oak, white pine, wild rose, poplar, and raspberries. The problem with cutting your homestead out of the woods/jungle, is that the woods/jungle has a habit of reclaiming what is feels is rightfully its own. So, if you cut a twenty-foot wide strip, three hundred yards long to use as a drive way, by the end of the summer the path will only be fifteen yards wide. Within a year, if you do nothing, the path will be seven yards wide and so on. The battle to keep the driveway clear goes on year after year. If you ever stop or get lazy, the forest wins.
My father is older and can’t work like he used to. He needs help to fight the unending battle. So, my wife and I started in at 10:00 AM and worked for four hours using an extension chainsaw and loppers. If you have ever done this kind of work, you will understand.
First you have to determine which trees, branches, thickets, etc. need to be removed. Then, you have to fight your way in and get close enough to cut them off. This must be done as far back as possible from the driveway to ensure you don’t have to come back in six weeks and cut it again because it has grown back. You cut and chop and saw and pull for the full 300 yards, on both sides! You stop and look back and see piles of branches, raspberry canes, and vines lying in the middle of the wide-open driveway.
You begin to feel satisfied with your work until you realize that all that brush you worked so hard to cut, needs to be dragged back into the woods far enough so that you can’t see it from the driveway. This is when you really wish you were twenty or thirty years younger.
After uncounted trips, dragging the debris back into the woods and creating head-high brush piles that the rabbits and grouse will soon make their home, you finally throw that last twig onto the last pile. You arm drops to your side. There is a constant stream of sweat running from the bill of your baseball cap. Your arms look more like hamburger than you remembered due to the thorns from the raspberries and wild rose branches stripping the top few layers of skin away. You stagger back out onto the driveway and
smile with satisfaction try to suck in enough air to keep you heart from pounding through your chest wall.
I said to my wife, “I’m getting too old for this shit!”
My wife looked at me and said, “Let’s get something to drink and eat. Then, I’m going to take a long shower.”
“Sounds like a plan dear.”
We leaned on each other as we walked down to the waiting van where my dad had been supervising the operation. During a late lunch, I asked my dad why he didn’t hire some young energetic high school footballers to come out and clean this up for him.
He told us that he and two of his “neighbors” had been looking for some young people to hire to do a variety of jobs for over a month. But, no one was interested. I was shocked!
Now, what high school kid could not use a couple hundred dollars for few hours work? Really? Are they so busy looking at their $300 iPhones that mommy and daddy bought for them, that they can’t earn their own gas money? Or, and this one really scares me, are they afraid of a little manual labor? I cannot believe that young people, especially athletes, would not want a summer job that pays better than a fast food restaurant, let’s them be outside to work on their tan, and would help keep them in shape for the upcoming year’s activities.
Am I way off base here or is this just a blip on the radar? Are young people today too comfortable sitting in front of their computers?