Women working outside

I just read Becky Ryder’s “Am I a Weirdo?” post from the Dead Runners Society chat list. She sends things from the DRS list that he thinks might amuse me. It was the one about picking up trash outside:

I think all of us who run and post to this list are a bit unusual. I accept that. But it is hard for me to accept the idea that I am really a weirdo.

Since Hollie’s injury I have become acutely aware that many of my neighbors think I am a bit unusual, maybe even a weirdo. I say this because of the way they question me about why I am mowing the grass, edging the year, trimming the hedge, and doing other yard work that Hollie cannot do because of his injury. And no—I will not be getting up on ladders. I guess today was what put me over the top.

Here’s what happened:

I live in a golf course community and many people travel the streets in carts. We are a very close community, with lots of committees for various tasks that make for a very nice place in which to live. My next door neighbors are at their second home for three months. Usually, when they are away, Hollie performs the guy’s community cleanup duties. This involves picking up trash (what little there is) on about a half mile of street every couple of weeks. Since Hollie can’t do the task, I thought nothing about doing it. So, after I finished my run, I got my pickup thingee and my bucket and set out to clean the area. Two different men stopped and told me that I really did not need to do that. When I told them that I enjoyed being outside and was using the walk as a part of my cooldown, each of them looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I told one of them that I was a retired coach and I liked outside work. He literally looked me up and down, shook his head and drove away.

Am I a weirdo? On second thought, don’t answer that. I guess I just want to point out how unusual it must be to see women (or anyone) doing outside work. I actually enjoy the yard work. I probably would not have wanted to make a career of such, but now I consider it as another way to work on fitness and get out of the house.

Two days ago, it was hot and muggy and the weatherfolk were talking about a line of storms and high winds sweeping up from Michigan. So I trimmed the birch tree in our front yard, which is overdue for a major haircut. I used my extensible pruning clippers so I didn’t have to climb up in it. I trimmed back most of the small branches up to about twenty feet high and piled them on the boulevard. One of my cats very trustingly lay around under the tree while I dropped branches. I was happy to be a fat old lady doing something useful. A few passersby grinned at me but nobody seemed to think it was too odd, or they had better manners than to say so. I have to get up into the tree to do the last few or reach them with the clippers from the upper windows of the house.

The birch tree is fairly large and is crowding my younger sour cherry tree and my neighbour’s boulevard maple tree out of shape. It’s almost at that size where the City of Toronto’s “Urban Forestry” department takes charge and will refuse to let me cut it down even if it’s threatening to fall over, until they give permission. Which can take months if not years. We had a bad windstorm in Toronto last June and some people had their houses damaged by infirm trees that were waiting for Toronto’s permission to cut them down (Toronto storm).

Just as rent controls stop property owners from building apartments, so Toronto’s tree protection laws encourage tree owners to cut down trees before they lose control of their care.


One Response to “Women working outside”

  1. ali Says:

    Your description of your branch cutting … just the picture of it … flashed in my mind and made me smile. Funny! Thanks for sharing!

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