Recently, I have been doing a lot of work in my garden to get it ready for next season. Since my urban lot is very small, it could not be that much work. So this is what I have set out to do this fall/winter (the best time in Houston, Texas!):

1) Cut down an overgrown bush that has a trunk about 6″ thick.
2) Remove the stump and replant with an orange or peach tree next spring.
3) Save some of the larger trunk pieces and stump for a HugelCulture bed.
4) Dig a trench 4’X9’X3′(deep) and bury the wood.
5) Construct the raised garden bed and plant with winter beans in preparation for next spring.

With the plan in place it was time for the execution phase. I rented a chain saw and chopped down the tree and cut into smaller pieces. Next, it was time to remove the stump. Start digging! I located three large roots which were a bear. I then purchased a tool to attempt and chop them, but that took forever so I dug them out enough to expose them and paid for another chain saw rental. Even then, the stump is just not budging. OK fine. It will take me more than a couple of days to get it removed and, yes, I want to do it myself instead of paying workers. It is me versus that damn stump.

But here is the thing. I am in my early 40’s and just cannot work as hard as I think I should. I last about four hours of hard labor (digging, chopping, moving) with many breaks and am just exhausted. It is not even that hot because fall has finally come to Houston. The next few days after working hard in the yard, I am sore as hell and don’t want to go back in the yard, even after work. Damn me for spending the last 20 years in a soft chair in a soft job, only working in the yard on weekend. What will happen if I have to work hard for my survival, under hard conditions, when rest means death.

The bottom line is that survival may come down to being in good physical condition, with functional strength and conditioning, not gym shape and conditioning (not that I have the latter either). If we don’t have it, survival chances go down in addition to decreased quality of life in the here and now.

I guess this missive is a call to those of us who are couch potatoes to get moving and get in shape. Someday, we may need the physical capacity as a matter of life or death. If that capacity is not built right alongside our other capacities, then all the preps in the world won’t save our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

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