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Ammi Midstokke: Backwoods accidental exercise plan

In the beginning, when I was contemplating moving 20 minutes away from my gym, I was concerned about how I would keep up with my fitness regimen of throwing heavy things around while causing minor but permanent hearing damage with AC/DC. In my defense, I do not get to choose the band.

So as we moved our belongings to our new permanent digs in the mountains, I lamented that the weekend was just too busy for gym adventures and that a few “rest days” would probably be okay. Somehow I have this idea that if I don’t systematically lift things over my head in sets of twelve, my body will waste away overnight – or turn into the raspberry scone I just ate.

As I finished unloading a ridiculous amount of boxes of shoes from my car, I encountered a sobbing nine year old in my kitchen. B was beside herself. The snow had slid from the roof and her carefully engineered fort was buried beneath the frozen piles of white. Whatever barbies were in there are staying there until spring.

We set to work at once rebuilding a new fortress. Mothering instinct told me it may be wise to not build directly under the roof as this potential hazard posed a health risk to my little humans. We hauled scrap wood and shovels up a pitch of rock in heavy trips through deep snow. We wanted a hybrid, reinforce snow fort this time.

We shoveled a path and cut snow steps up the hillside. We dug a space larger than a Japanese apartment as her ‘living room.’ The snow was heavy and my back ached as she demanded a foyer and some servants’ quarters (presumably where I would be sleeping).

She sent me out searching for roof materials. I found some plywood and schlepped it slowly up the hillside. I stripped my coat and worked in just a t-shirt, sweating and grunting like I was at a Gold’s Gym.

We built walls and windows, we put some plastic covering over the roof to protect it. We pasted it all together with more snow. Her new fortress had more amenities than my own off-grid palace. I left her there to watch over her kingdom while I went to chop wood.

I chopped wood until my shoulders were too weak to lift the splitting maul. Then I switched to an axe so I could split kindling (one of my favorite forest-living jobs). When I got tired of witnessing my poor aim, I stacked logs.

The sun had come out and was warming the ice sheet on my deck so I grabbed the ice axe and a shovel and began clearing the surface. An hour later I had a dry, sun-baked deck and one of the most rewarding afternoon kavu blue views I’ve ever soaked in.

The sun made the filth of my atrium windows blatant, so I fetched a ladder and some cleaning things and naively began a project that turned into a three hour scrub-a-thon. There I also discovered wasp nests that needed sorting.

By sundown, I had accidentally worked out enough warrant a true rest day or four. My body ached. I was tired and hungry. I felt like I’d just run an obstacle course marathon.

“Tomorrow we should build a garage for my sleds. And a tree house,” B said. But if I do all this real work, how will I have energy to go to the gym?


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