Every once in a while I see these limber young women on daytime shows, working their lithe, little bodies up and down a pole, shimmying better than my old Aunt Kate ever could, and I envy that ability. After running and playing tennis for years, the toll injuries took on my legs prevents me from shaking my booty as well as I once did. But there still lives in me the woman who loves to move, to dance, to fly through the air with the greatest of ease. If only I wasn’t stuck in this middle-aged body!
I must confess I have always wanted to try sliding down a firehouse pole. It looks like fun. Alas, I’m not the most graceful thing on two feet. I’m the one most likely to be found in a heap at the bottom of the pole. That could have its benefits, especially considering some of the hunky young firemen I have seen.
As for pole dancing in a strip joint, that’s not for me. I don’t really look good in a thong and I’ve never been able to figure out how burlesque queens managed to get their tassles twirling. But I need something to keep me loose and limber. When the old stretching routine for running no longer kept me comfortable, I stumbled onto a secret that gave me better relief than I expected. I got gardening.
It may sound silly, but it’s true. As a gardener, I have fewer aches and pains. I think it’s all the stretching I do – when I pull weeds, when I plant, and even when I dead-head the blossoms. Putting down mulch is the equivalent of lifting weights. Digging up plants forces me to use muscles I don’t normally use, flexing feet, knees, and even arms.
In other words, gardening is pretty good exercise for your body. You can go easy and light or you can get down and dirty. That’s the beauty of a gardening workout.
I discovered it by accident. A friend of my late mother needed a little help in her garden. I needed to get out and get some fresh air. An hour here and there made me realize that I wasn’t as stiff or sore as I had been.
When I garden, I am constantly moving, getting up and down. I’m under a bush, trimming it. I’m bending over to grab that crown vetch before it spreads across the roses. I am planting a little sapling I found. I am lugging that garden hose across the lawn to water plants. I am clipping back the chrysanthemums to keep the plants sturdy. All this adds up to a lot of stretching for my aging body. The movement is similar to dancing up and down a pole, but without the hoots and hollers of the old geezers at the bar. No one is going to pinch my fanny as I yank that dandelion. No slobbering fool is going to tell me I’m hot, hot, hot! It’s just me, the birds, and the bees.
Sure, it would be nice to do a pole dance workout. I imagine that it would probably make me feel like a calendar girl in a sixties gas station, sporting lots of big, bodacious hair and flawless, silky skin. Is any woman ever too old to enjoy feeling sexy? But the benefit of gardening is that blossoms follow. From all that work comes real beauty.
Of course, having a pole to hang onto as I get up and down might be a good thing down the road, especially when I need a little more support for the old knees. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone manufactured a ”garden pole”? But for now, give me chirping birds, good weather, and a trowel. I’m happy to get down and dirty in the garden!