|The view at 5,000 feet last Thursday|
On our hike to Church Mountain last Thursday, we had a few moments when we saw the sun, briefly, but it was also cool enough that we needed most of our warm clothing. I much prefer hiking in cool weather rather than full sun, so even though we didn't have much of a view, it was a beautiful day to be out. Even without the sun, we had fun, and I wrote about it here. I always take pictures and write about our adventure on my other blog every Thursday, as well as again once on Saturday and Tuesday. Here, as you know, I sit with my laptop on my knees early in the morning on Sunday and just wing it.
I am definitely a creature of habit, and I find that it's comforting to know what my daily activities will be, even though I'm retired and can do whatever I want with my time. I've become accustomed to getting up and going to bed early, although yesterday I had a hard time getting to sleep, since I was unable to put my book down and stayed up reading until close to midnight. Unusual for me but not unheard of, either. I'm sufficiently well rested that it doesn't really make me feel tired, but I sure slept well last night and woke this morning feeling like my usual self.
I've written about it here before, but I'm reminded again about what that means, my "usual self." As I age, that changes, but usually it's gradual enough that I don't notice until something makes me pay attention to my daily routine. Hurting my knee in early April and being unable to hike on Thursdays or walk with the ladies on Saturday changed my schedule, all right. It made me grateful for my usual good health and ability to exercise. I have now done four Thursday hikes with my friends and enjoyed myself immensely, but I woke on Friday with pain in my knee again, making me cautious and a bit apprehensive. I'm treating the knee with creams and compression, hoping to avoid a repeat. Before, I thought if I ignored the pain it would go away; now I know better. I've learned a hard lesson and am anxious not to get injured again.
As we drove back on Thursday, I had a chance to visit with two new hikers. I sat in the back seat and perused my pictures, thinking about the blog post I'd be writing when I arrived home. Dick, sitting next to me, has joined us a couple of times before, but I hadn't had a chance to learn much about him. It turns out that the four of us in the car were all in our seventies and retired from our professions. Dick's wife is also a hiker and recently fell and broke her leg while out hiking. She's gradually getting back to normal; he said they were able to walk up to Fragrance Lake last week.
Sometimes when I'm walking along, thinking my own thoughts and looking at the trail in front of me, I imagine what I would do if I got really injured, like breaking a bone, while out in the wilderness. One of our regular hikers carries a first aid kit, and I carry a few bandaids and compression bandage, along with my knee braces. It wouldn't be easy but we'd be able to manage to get to safety. In the wilderness, we don't have cell coverage, so it would be necessary to get to the highway and down to the Ranger Station for help. Although it wouldn't be pleasant, we would manage, by helping each other through it all.
I've been going out on these hikes for eight years now. Nobody has ever been hurt badly, other than a few scrapes from a fall or injuring a knee, like I did in April. I hope it stays that way, but realistically each hiker must make the decision before going out about his or her fitness level for that day. I forget that fact, thinking that every day is like every other one, but I've learned that there are reasons why my friends stay home from hard hikes, or don't come at all any more because of injury or illness. We're seniors, after all, and time doesn't stand still for anyone, does it?
Hubris: isn't that a wonderful word? It is an ancient Greek word meaning pride or arrogance, used particularly to mean the kind of arrogance that often brings about someone's downfall. I've been guilty of it most of my life, and now that I'm in my seventies, I realize that it's long past time for me to grow out of it. In spite of myself, I'm actually gaining wisdom as I age. It's partly because I can't continue to believe that if I ignore a pain or symptom in my aging body that it will get better. It won't. I am moving in one direction only, and listening to my body will give me a chance to keep going a bit longer. It's true for all of us; it's not just me getting older while everybody else stays the same.
I just finished reading a really good book yesterday, Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History. It tells the story of the hurricane that destroyed Galveston in 1900, and it also made me realize the hubris of that time. The weather forecasters of the day believed that they were able to predict storm paths, even though we know today that they knew very little. They also believed that Galveston was immune to that kind of hurricane. How wrong they were: more than 8,000 people died in that storm, and much of it was caused by the kind of arrogance that leads to destruction. Today we have satellites and instantaneous communication, and all those in a storm's path are evacuated to higher ground. And still: we have situations like Hurricane Katrina where more than a thousand people died, and it was in the twenty-first century. We continue to believe that we are past all that, but we aren't, are we?
Yes, it's gloomy to consider the human predicament, which leads right into the title of this post: June Gloom. Although it refers to a climatological event, it can also be thought of as a state of mind. As I consider how to nurse my knee so that I don't end up injured again, and as I try to stay clear of the hubris that I am so often guilty of, I'll think ahead to the bright and sunny days of July.
And with that, the post is written. My mind and heart feel clear and ready to begin another week, whether in clouds or in sunshine. I'll make every attempt to stay healthy and wish exactly the same situation for you, my dear reader. The day is about to begin, and it holds the promise of a day filled with love and happiness. Be well until we meet again next week, and remember than gloom always gives way to the light.