A chewer of pinesap

Last week for no known reason, the pain in my shoulders went away for the first time in four years, and the fire in my shinbones eased up too. How sweet it was to sleep without being continually awakened by pain. “Oh, boy,” I exulted, “I can finally get caught up with my work.”

To that end, I built a 24-foot (7.3 meter) ladder out of 2x4s, and got three people to help me raise it to the first limb of my Ponderosa Pine. I then spent part of two days in the top of the Ponderosa removing limbs that overhung the house. I would first tie them to the trunk, and, after they were severed, move down the trunk cutting them into small sections that I then dropped to the ground. I went to bed each night happier than I’ve been in years as I anticipated continuing my work the next day despite that fact that my muscles are so atropied that the job was far harder than when I last did it.

I wasn’t through with my work on the third day, but Peggy wanted to wash the outside of the house—another long neglected job—with rags and brushes, and I felt obligated to help. This job occupied part of three days, and we finished it yesterday. Last night, the fire returned to my shinbones, and my shoulders hurt so much that sleep was impossible even with ice and narcotics. We still have a fence and a storage shed to wash, plus I left my ropes and tools high in the tree so I wouldn’t have to hoist them up again. I’m hoping the pain will ease up enough that I can at least retrieve them before it rains on Sunday.

You might point out that I took on too much too fast, and I won’t argue with that, but I’m as hungry for work as a man who hasn’t eaten in weeks is hungry for food. Work gave me purpose, and enabled me to feel that I earned the food I put in my mouth. During my years in pain, I could still attend to business and was eventually able to do light housework. More recently, I’ve even been able to do yard work, but hard and challenging labor was what I most loved and craved, and it is also what Peggy is the least able to do. She often urged me to hire various jobs done so that they would at least have gotten done, but that would have represented so great a failure that I would have been hard pressed to bear it.

While I was in the tree, I chewed pinesap, and its sweetness and the joy I took in my work are still fresh in my memory. I can but hope that I’m able to return to them soon.