Foot(e)bridge to Bull’s Island from Lumberville, Pennsylvania, in another season:
NJWILDBEAUTY readers must be wondering at my long silence in this blog. Normally one of my most gratifying creative outlets, ==and a major part of my mission to urge people to pay attention to Nature, enjoy her, and save her–, doing a blog has been the farthest thing from my mind since February 18.
That day, a meniscus (right knee; we have four – what is the plural – menisci?) tore for no obvious reason. Pain sharp as the venomous bite of a striking snake zoomed up and down my right leg, which then refused to work. My chiropractor and my co-writer friend, Pat Tanner, had to meet me at my car at his office and my home, near Pat’s, to pry me out. Or I’d be there still!
A meniscus has very little blood flow — therefore, it is prone to tearing, and not prone to healing.
Barnegat Bay – Birding by Kayak – Heaven on Earth
In 2011, I set foot(e) into physical therapy with Princeton Orthopaedics, to return to the world and especially to kayaking, after my brilliant hip replacement with Doctor Thomas Gutowski. My physical therapist – which process I have since insisted is as important as the surgery — was the perfectly named John Walker. He’s the miracle worker, who took me kayaking upon Lake Carnegie four months after the surgery.
John knew that Dr. Gutowski had asked my surgical goal – (did you know there was such a thing?–) at our first meeting. Dr. G did not laugh when I immediately announced, “To return to the kayak.” In fact, he discussed my paddling preferences, later inserting a kayaker’s hip.
John Walker then strengthened all those long-underutilized muscles around the new joint — through three lengthy weekly sessions for a very long time. One spring day, I confessed, most shamefacedly, that I’d planned to kayak that weekend, but had been afraid to do it alone.
[I, who do everything alone, like move to Manhattan straight from my convent school; like managing a Test Kitchen at 21 years old at the corner of forty-second and third; liuke move to Provence so I could spend my fiftieth birthday on my balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.] But I couldn’t face LEAVING the kayak alone, no matter how blissful my paddle may have been.
Confession led to John’s saying, “That’s because we’re to do it together.” And we did.
There wasn’t a soul on that lake, that still April evening. We paddled through a Tiffany landscape complete with mountains (Watchungs?) I had never seen from the towpath.
As sunset approached, a great blue heron marched toward us at the forest edge. That normally vigilant bird was not the least disturbed by our presence, since kayakers are part of the water.
Brenda Jones — Disturbed Great Blue Heron — Trenton Marsh
Never, however, did I consider entering those physical therapy doors again.
Guess what — we have to heal this meniscus tear and prevent any in the other three. I have been returned to John to work on hamstrings and glutes. I protested this week, “Those strange names are not part of my upbringing. I don’t want glutes!”
“Carolyn,” John explained, in his traditional avuncular manner, “You HAVE to have glutes. Especially for hiking…”
OK. So now I don’t even have time for yoga. Just glutes, hamstrings and core.
I’m sharing my newly relevant protest poem from five years ago.
Yes, it’s a blessing to be back in John’s capable hands. He and my wondrous Hopewell chiropractor, Brandon Osborne, chronicle and celebrate improvements I am too dense to perceive. Progress is being made. But those rooms and those contortions used to seem like being kidnapped to go on the road with a circus!
With their vigilant approval, I was back on the alluring foot(e)bridge over the Delaware to Bull’s Island twice last weekend. Pileateds and phoebes announced spring.
Next foot(e)prints – The Sourlands Trail off Greenwood Avenue.
But I do not take back my discomfiture over all those months, following those strange directions:
room full of premature blossoms
I perform exercises
on the heels of ‘total hip replacement’
March sun suffuses whiteness
that one day should be pears
as I am handed stretching bands,
assorted weights, one bolster
and a ball
here, serious playthings promise
flexibility, stamina, gait
— and possibly– kayaking
with absolute lack of privacy
throughout my fitness attempts
outside, blossoms yearn
for pollinators’ essential arrivals
inside, –completing yet another
“two sets of thirty”–
I perceive flowery profusion
through a tall bright curve
of ivory spinal column
vertebrae and blossoms
my new reality
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Dappled Sourlands Trail, off Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell