Project Get Out is my personal challenge to spend at least a half hour a day outside for the fall. Because even though I work in natural resources and write about the outdoors, I don’t get out nearly enough.
Woo-hoo! Just the fact that I’ve kept at this for two weeks is pretty impressive to me. I’m not always so great at following through on my crazy ideas (it’s hard when there are just so many many of them…), so it’s already a mini-victory.
Last Monday sucked, especially after Sunday. Sunday was the perfect fall day: sunshine, temps in the 70s, a mild breeze, and great colors.
Comparatively, Monday sucked. The high temperature fell from Sunday’s 79 to Monday’s 47. And it was a cold, drizzly, sloppy 47 degrees, and the only good thing about it was that I’d managed to plan ahead and cook cold-weather comfort foods like stuffed peppers and soup. So I found myself at home on Monday evening, realizing that I hadn’t been outside yet that day and that it would be getting dark in an hour or so. Could I get myself to go out?
I I bundled up, putting on my wool hat and a pair of knit gloves for the first time since spring… or at least early July (one sign I live in the UP: I keep these items in a drawer in the living room year-round, never bothering to pack them away).
I spent the next hour or so in my garden, tightening up a raised bed and then moving soil around to get it in place for next year. And, as usual, even though I dreaded going outside, it immediately felt good to be out and I didn’t feel cold at all.
Tuesday was kind of the same, although the weather wasn’t quite so dreary. I continued to move soil around (probably my favorite gardening activity…) and had the realization that a half hour each day in the garden could really add up over time. If I spent a half hour in my garden on weekdays, that would (in theory) add up to 130 hours per week. Just that teeny little bit of time everyday and could get the equivalent of an extra 3 work weeks of garden labor every year. Of course that’s an overestimation of how much gardening I could really get done (since my garden is under multiple feet of snow for 4 months of the year), but it does illustrate how much one could get done by puttering away at something productive in the evenings (i.e., Blow up your TV!)
Cyclocross practice. That’s 30-40 minutes of self-induced torture riding beefy road bikes on gravel, grass, single track, and whatever else the weekly ringleader can come up with. But I love the sport because it speaks directly to my affinity for oddball, adventuresome sports and things that make me feel like I’m at least a little badass.
Just so you know what you’re missing of you don’t race cross:
After work, I had a nice trail run with on of my best buds. It was interesting to see how many leaves had fallen since our run the previous Thursday, although there was still plenty of color to keep it pretty. If someone had told me a year or two ago that I would actually enjoy running with another person (something I’ve always avoided, and am still somewhat skeptical about in a lot of ways), I’d have had trouble believing it. But it is fun. I think the trick involved running slowly, so slowly that sometimes it feels like walking might be faster, because then you can goof off and have stupid conversations and laugh and look around and also still breathe and not gasp for air.
It turned out to be a big trails week. I hit them again for a short run on Friday (just enough to meet my half-hour minimum) and then hit the gym.
Saturday was a bust; I spent all day inside. I went to a writers workshop for most of the day, where I at least wrote about being outside, although I didn’t take the time to get out since it was dreary and gross.
Instead, I thought about my grapes and grape vines and also about grapes and grape vines growing up. I used to go over to a neighbor’s cottage in the fall when they weren’t around, pick grapes from vines sprawled out over a tall pile of bricks that served as a makeshift trellis, and sit at their picnic table and work on algebra homework. It did it multiple years, so that it felt like a small ritual. And then this year, because we had our first grapes, I remembered that because everything felt the same: the temperature, the strength of the wind, the smell of fall and leaves, the low sunlight filtering through clouds in the afternoon.
But better: no algebra homework!
After being cooped up inside all day on Saturday (even after the workshop), I woke up Sunday and needed to move. So I ended up taking a walk as soon as I woke up, even though it was still dark and drizzling. A few of my coworkers have these light belts that they use for running in the dark— think of a high-powered headlamp that you wear on your waist, with a blinking red light on the back. We’ll, I’m too cheap to buy one, so this was my opportunity to see if I could just wear my headlamp around my waist instead.
The verdict? Yes, my headlamp strap can be adjusted so that I can wear my headlamp comfortably around my waist. But I’m not sure if it shines enough light, since I was walking on the road and didn’t really need it to find my way. But I’ll definitely try it again.
Walking early in the day had another advantage: I could spend the rest of the day guiltlessly lounging around the house in comfy workout clothes, reading books and being idle. It was wonderful. I napped. I journaled. I read most of a compilation of travel writing. I laid on the bed and looked out the window at a colorful maple. In the afternoon, the drizzle stopped and I rustled up enough energy to see what I could find in the garden.
More grapes. Another, my fourth, shopping bag full of them. (Bags 1-3 are in the freezer and slated to become wine!) And a surprise: I had to cut one of my three vines back this spring and so I didn’t think that it would produce anything. But it did: one single cluster of dark purple grapes, another variety than my other two vines. And these tasted the best of the three plants. They didn’t taste like table grapes from the store, and they weren’t sour like all the grapes I’ve ever picked off of vines. They tasted Grape. As in: they tasted just like grape jelly or grape juice or a even grape can of Jolly Good soda, which may have been my favorite flavor when I was 7. They tasted so Grape that I realized that I didn’t even know that grapes could taste that way; I just thought it the favor was fake, some vat of purple gunk, industrially produced and used in Laffy Taffy. I had no idea that grapes could taste that way.
What’s next: blue raspberries?
What did you do outside this past week?