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Once Upon a Time There Was a Tree in the Woods



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The winter has not been kind to anyone anywhere this year. Not enough snow in the mountain resorts, an absence of rain in the farmlands and extraordinary blizzards and flooding in districts, cities and states that are vaguely familiar with the stuff. Costly, unsettling, deadly and destructive.

There has been good news, if I may boast, for my wooded neighborhood: It rained with decent regularity the past three days and heavily enough last night to awaken Laree and me. It’s fun to snuggle in bed toasty and warm with the rain beating down on the sturdy midnight rooftop. That’s providing, of course, an aging water-logged tree doesn’t uproot and topple on you and your splintery beam-and-board dwelling… as did one such stout oak our first winter 25 years ago.

We won’t forget the large, loud and sudden crack of wood, the breathless pause that followed and, then, the thunder and shake of something big all around us. Daybreak revealed the tree was mature and healthy, but its grip on the soggy hillside soil was not sufficient. Our cantilevered deck was clipped by an extending limb, while the thick thrust of leafy branches consumed the main structure as a maid’s feather-duster attending a cupboard.

Thank you, Lord, we were spared. 

The numbers: 100 bucks to fix the deck, 150 bucks to clear the tree, reducing it to 3 cords of firewood, 500 bucks worth of precious fuel for next season’s comfort and warmth. Lo and behold, the oak having fallen provided increased access to sunny skies and a pleasurable expansion of our hillside view. What in the first stages appeared frightening and disastrous, in the end resulted in shared steadfastness, profit and gain.

Here’s the stretch: The entire excitable and nightmarish experience reminds me of squats, deadlifts and bench presses.  (Oh, brother!) In appearance alone -- bars loaded and bending with inestimable weight -- the fundamental lifts are frightening yet courage-provoking. Lie beneath, stand under or crotch over the silent masses to set them in motion and they are large and loud, breath-taking and threatening.

Overwhelming they are, yet with applied courage, stamina and virtue, the bounty accrued in good time is considerable and praiseworthy. We call it muscle, power and guts. The sun shines through the storm when you hoist the iron. The perspective is grand; you can see forever and be there in a moment.

And all along you, with dumbbells in hand, thought you were a misguided lout, a do-nothing miscreant, a self-centered narcissist -- a mere musclehead. Not so. Think big, respecter of things that go clang in the night. You’re all three.

Or, is it all four? I get so confused with numbers, unless we’re talking 45-pound plates, 35s, 25s, 10s, 5s, 2½s and 1¼s.

You thought I was gonna leave out the 1¼s, right?

Where were we? Oh, yeah, somebody mentioned something about squats and deadlifts. Comment: Perform them as long as you are able, using commonsense, finesse and moderation as you grow up. But then, who here will ever grow up?

Pray often, be thankful always and drink your Bomber Blend greedily.

Gone… Bomb


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