Many couples about our age (late 50's, early 60's) are contemplating condo life, the travails of home ownership not meshing with their view of what retirement, or semi-retirement, should be about.
Well, notwithstanding my occasional lustings for a potted plant on a deck, rather than ten acres of natural Oregon land in the lower reaches of the south Salem hills, we're following the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" adage.
And believe me, maintaining our tree, brush, and grass filled property (with enough remaining poison oak and blackberry vines to keep my wife's sprayer busy) sometimes feels like dying, one step removed.
Yet, not so strangely, delightfully so.
Because there's a joy in exerting yourself to almost your limit. This can be done at an athletic club, jogging trail, bicycle ride, or what not, but I find that hard work like field mowing – my current preoccupation – possesses a sweaty satisfaction lacking in other sorts of activities.
When people trade the complexities of a house and yard (or house and acreage) for the simplicity of a condo, they're gaining in some respects but losing in others.
One thing they're missing (and I really would miss my annual field mowing, even though I love to complain about it) is physical exercise. Whether minimal with weeding flower beds, or maximal with the exertion needed to handle my walk-behind DR Field and Brush Mower in tall grass on bumpy sloping ground, home chores help keep an aging body healthy.
And here's an after photo that shows some of my weekend work (along with a dog sniffing out field mice, who, I strongly suspect, aren't big fans of my mowing).
When I finish a workout at the athletic club, I'm not able to stand back and admire what I accomplished. Because, nothing was, other than exercising. But after every field is cut, I love to put the DR mower on idle, take some sips of water, gaze at where I've been working, and think… beautiful.
There's a lot to like about a potted plant on a condo deck. It's just not the same as an acre or two of freshly cut grass. The sweat-soaked t-shirt I've got drying outside testifies to that.