Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gently Down the Stream

Let's hear it for the Greeks.
They knew the joy of running, they knew the joy of rowing, they knew the joy of poetry and music.
I remember three assignments for memory in Grade Twelve English. Something from Macbeth, something from Wordsworth, something from Tennyson. The Macbeth bit began "We've scotched the snake, not killed it." and that always reminds me of the evils still running rampant in the Church Militant. The sonnet from the bard of the Lakes district was Ode on a View From London Bridge, which I chose not to memorize the night before, and then at lunch chose a pick up soccer game on the school grounds instead of memorizing, thus infuriating my English teacher - that was a surprise - but Tennyson carried the palm for unalloyed usefulness with his Ulysses, from which I conned about a dozen lines beginning with "Push off, and sitting well in order, smite the sounding furrow . . . ."
This was, of course, a profound homage to Homer and the culture he came from, and that culture included a great deal of wisdom on the subject of staying fit. Aristotle liked nothing better than to discourse on his elements of genius while strolling about the garden of the academy. Well he knew the students' infinite ability for going for an imaginative meander, at whatever point they lost touch with what was really going on. And what is more real than a walk?
Ah. A row.
Well, perhaps not more real, especially when you journey no farther than the walls of your attic, but definitely more efficient when it comes to burning calories and getting rid of the annoying little bulge in the middle that wasn't there when you were in high school and memorizing poetry.
In those high school days, utterly wonderful in so many respects, thanks to excellent friends and teachers, I became absolutely convinced that the one profession I was in no way cut out for was sales. I couldn't think of an object that was so necessary for the well being of a fellow human that I could have the energy to convince him or her to buy it.
But now, after a week on our immensely well-designed erg, or rowing machine, a Concept 2, I can actually see myself rapping on doors all over the bloody continent, filled, street by street, with people packing the obesity that is so much a part of that which threatens to bankrupt the health sphere.
Can there be an easier way to shed ounces by the day, pounds, even, by the week?
I doubt it.
There can be no doubt that I love walking and running. Earlier pages are a testimony to that fact. But those pages also give evidence that the chap in his early 70's was having trouble with his feet and his knees, and all those images of the extended Kootenay lope began to emerge as so much pipe dreaming. And the lard, although on a holding pattern, was not disappearing quite as it was supposed to, and indeed had done so in the best days of jog-walking, back in the warm summer of '06. Well, too much music research, for one thing, and definitely the foot problem for another.
The rowing might, of course, give new strength to the feet, and make them nimble once again on the high road. But even if it doesn't, no matter. The calorie burning is in place. After a week on the erg, I burn as many calories in a half-hour of rowing as I did in an hour of walking, and sitting in the attic, surrounded by the books of choice, a gallon jar of water, and a baritone ukulele for mode practice, who could ask for anything more totally productive? Stand by for unbelievable bulletins on weight reduction.
From the end of June, 06, until late in August, I had wonderful success with running against the bulge, managing a daily distance on the waterfront of anywhere from 5.2 to 6 miles. But then the right knee became a problem and I had to upgrade my grasp of stretches. And there was always the music research, thanks to no one in modern times understanding the relationship, in music, among math, the modes, and solfa. Just think of Inspector Morse and his two pint problems. Then even the walking sprung sore feet, so that cut down the early morning rambles.
But hah hah hah. Them days are gone for ever.
I guess I had to find out first the virtues of in house walking and solo dancing with a Walkman and Emmylou Harris. Not everyone can afford the thousand bucks for a rowing machine, at least not right away, without thinking about it and realizing that cars are inclined to retard health rather than advance it.
In the first week of a fitness program, of course, you gain weight. Water retention, because the body reads all that sudden activity as an assault on its skills for retaining health. I've been through this a dozen times, and still have trouble accepting the rule of nature. So I kept my mouth shut until today, when the scales this morning finally showed results, at 172.
In a completely unconnected area there is another bulletin. For the anniversary reunion, the Saturday night at the Royal Hotel has been canceled. The gathering at the beach at Sandspit will simply continue into the evening. We've been very good at this in the past, with the first two generations of musicians. The presence of the third lot will make it even more of an event.

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