This weekend, unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I hobbled my way up into the garden, to see what damage had been inflicted by the Inexorable Forces of Nature during my medically-enforced hiatus from the world. I had not visited my vegetable children since early June, when the surgeon's hacksaw made an ordinarily routine uphill foray an impossibility.
What I saw horrified me: The IF's of N had wreaked utter havoc on the beds. Weeds three feet high and as thick as a rainforest choked the watermelons, the cucumbers lay under a canopy of festering dandelions and clover, the radishes and spring onions were unrecognizable, and I can't even begin to describe what had happened to the herbs without bursting into tears.
Understand: I had worked like a desperate pig in the days preceding the hip-surgery in hopes of avoiding exactly this discovery. On the day of the procedure, there was not a single plant out of place. Between the rigidly disciplined rows of asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb there lay nothing but black soil and a light dressing of bark mulch. That sucker was shipshape. I had expected to see perhaps a little decay, a little entropy, but this -- this....
Something had to be done. Gingerly, carefully, I laid aside my crutches and sat down in the foot-deep grass and began to pull the worst of the damage out of the cucumbers. No. The position was clumsy, unbalanced, untenable. I had to be on my knees. Very tentatively I raised myself to a kneeling position, favoring the healthy leg. Worked for a bit. Yes, this will do.
After an hour's work or so, I realized I had worked my way several feet from where my crutches lay in the grass. I stood up, my plan to hopscotch over and retrieve them. Then a wild-assed thought occurred to me: Try walking!
So I did. Put the bum leg out in front of me, plunked the foot down in the grass, put some weight on it. The heavens did not open, hellfire did not rain down upon me, and my medico's dire warning of cracking and snapping bone, insufficiently healed, completely failed to materialize. And perhaps most wonderfully surprising of all, it didn't hurt. Took a step. Took another. And another.
I continued to live.
I walked all the way to the house. With each step, I could feel all this Bad Craziness, this accumulated misery, this crust of karma that had congealed around my wounded and incapable body sloughing off and wafting away in the wind. Fuck me, I can walk again!
Now, yes, you'll be telling me, but the Doc said you have two more weeks on those things. Aren't you pushing things too fast?
To which I snap my fingers. I had an appointment with the man this morning, and I ruefully confessed that I had begun walking -- against his express orders. To my mild surprise, he was completely and unreservedly encouraging, and told me that if I was walking I was for all intents healed, two weeks early. Lose the crutches, he told me. Challenge the hip now. Do whatever you like -- gently -- as long as it doesn't hurt. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Work in the garden. Go and sin no more, my son, for you are healed.
It's damned nearly impossible to convey how happy this makes me. While I'm no triathlete or mountaineer, I am a fairly active guy, and a month's imprisonment, during which my leisure hours were spent moldering in front of the television or reading, during which the simple act of carrying a small object from one room to another was an ordeal involving logistical planning and contingency strategies, during which I couldn't so much as go shopping or walk the dogs, wore on my nerves and depressed me. There's nothing so enervating, so emasculating, as forced helplessness.
The first thing I do, I hold a bonfire for those goddamned crutches.
PS: I'm gonna miss the Handicapped spot in the parking lot, though. That was cool. The temporary sticker's good through September, and I may just still keep those crutches around for the hot days in the Costco parking lot. You, me, lamppost.
PPS: In the same spirit, I just shaved off the beard. Miserable, itchy thing.