Clearing A Path
Now that I have graduated from college, my parents are again emphasizing the importance of life skills with me. They have explained that learning life skills also encompasses learning how to take care of the property that surrounds our home. This is a very different experience for me since up until now my parents have worked on teaching me household and self-care life skills, and I never really gave much thought to outside chores. I have always been quite happy to stay inside with my books and computer.
So, this past week I have started a new chore: carrying the bags of seeds for my mother to the many feeders we have in our large yard and woods behind our house for the squirrels, birds, and chipmunks that come to feed. The woods takes up almost all of the interior space of the block we live on and our bird feeders receive a wide variety of plumaged visitors.
As the weekend approached, my father indicated that he would need my help to clean up the leaves, twigs, and other detritus that has collected in the woods. I have played in the woods a few times before, but I have never helped my dad take care of it. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience even though it did challenge me physically.
It was a bright sunny day when we ventured out and our main responsibility at first was raking up the leaves, sticks, and other materials in the back yard, placing them in a wheelbarrow, and wheeling them over to a large debris pile in the woods. My dad did most of the raking while I held a shovel to collect the leaves and then placed them in the wheelbarrow. This was a new experience for me since I have never used a shovel before, but I got the hang of it after a few minutes of practice. I also pushed the wheelbarrow to the pile and disposed of the leaves there—another new experience for me. My dad showed me how to shake the wheelbarrow back and forth so the leaves could be more efficiently distributed as they fell out into the pile. Making these trips could be tough because the path to the pile was up hill and was covered with leaves and large branches that blocked the path and almost tripped me up in some places, but my father taught me how to navigate through the woods to the pile. I think another reason I perceived the trips as difficult is because I usually did not pay attention to where I was stepping. It took a great deal of concentration on my part to learn how to navigate the path, push the wheelbarrow without tipping it over, and avoid branches and stumps. My dad and I shared the responsibility of pushing the wheelbarrow, each of us alternating after four trips each.
This process exhausted me because I have weak muscle tone throughout my body, so my dad let me rest for short periods. During my rest periods, I took in the beauty and sounds of the woods, things which I had not really noticed in too much detail before. The day went on this way as we moved from the back yard to further up into the woods, cleaning the woods and then resting my body so that I could continue. By the time I told my dad I was much too tired to continue, about four hours had passed. My dad worked on as I went in to rest.
Being with my father as we took on this task turned out to be much more fun and invigorating than I thought it would be. My father’s company was very enjoyable as was seeing all of the animals who scampered out of our way as we worked, and the pleasant weather was a very nice fringe benefit. We did not complete the entire woods, but I look forward to working with my father in the coming weekends to do so. I also now know that I can, with the proper guidance and attitude, participate in projects that are both physically and mentally challenging for me. Another benefit of a good day’s work is to be able to look outside and see what my father and I accomplished—the start of a very nice looking yard and woods.