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June 22, 2003: Dirt , part two

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A helpful suggestion. When you are feeling extremely sore and stiff in muscles where you didn't even realize you had muscles after spending the better part of a day heaving several tons of dirt into a wheelbarrow and then lifting and/or shoving said wheelbarrow up a ramp or just over the side of a 2-foot wall over and over and over again, here is what you probably should not do the following day.

What you should not do is drag your aching body out of bed, down enough ibuprofen to numb the pain to a dull roar, and then do the hauling/lifting/shoveling/pain-inducing activity for another two hours the next morning.

Or in other words, that's exactly how I spent my morning.

The pile of dirt left over from yesterday was so much smaller than what we'd started with that it felt as if we were working much faster than before. We kept loading wheelbarrows and dragging them to the back yard and dumping them into the pit, which by this time was mostly full of dirt anyway so things were a little bit easier because there wasn't as much shifting of the dirt once we'd dumped it inside the walls. And because I could visibly see the pile of dirt shrinking rapidly with each load, I was rather surprised to learn that we'd been at it as long as we had when the last wheelbarrow of dirt had been transported and dumped.

And then because we were already out there and sweaty and covered in dirt, we decided it made sense to move the last of the leftover stones off to one side of the yard. Oddly enough heaving those stones to and fro didn't seem nearly so much an effort now that I'd spent a few hours shoveling dirt.

I have come to the realization now, after two days spent in heavy manual dirt-related labor, that ibuprofen will have to be my very best friend for the next few days. The rest of the day I have spent carefully doing as little as possible to exert my aching body. My back hurts, but the worst of the muscle pain is in the shoulders and the upper back, and oddly enough in my forearms, especially in my wrists. This is due, I can only surmise, to the fact that shoveling dirt requires an interesting twist of the hands every time I lifted dirt from pile to wheelbarrow. It has also made life a bit difficult, in some odd ways. The simplest things – opening a door or turning a knob – now take more effort. And it feels as if there is a large band around my chest, making it hard to breathe too deeply. Every few hours I pop a few more pills and then sink cautiously into a chair and hope that the drugs kick in long enough to allow me to get back out of the chair eventually.

But we are done. Despite the fact that I hurt in places I had no idea I could hurt (did I mention even my wrists hurt? Opening doors should not be painful, people), it actually feels good to know we did the whole thing by ourselves - not just built this circle of heavy stones but filled it to the brim with dirt just waiting to nourish something green. And what makes me feel even better is knowing that, with the exception of laying the stones and planting the creepers around the base of the wall, this is the last of the big gardening projects for the summer.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering what five cubic yards of dirt looks like…

This entry is a collaboration for On Display. This month's topic is "perfect circle."

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