Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Brisk Strapping

The onset of winter, bringing in its wake the dreary prospect of an indefinite confinement indoors, has me wavering between a long hibernation or a quick and merciful end to everything. I become my own worst enemy, a wan discount Hamlet wanting only to "end the heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks that Flesh is heir to." It's probably not as bad as I make it out, but I bitch about the weather as a matter of course and I'll take my fun where I find it these days.

The main obstacle this seasonal weather presents, of course, is its interference in my usual exercise regimen, a strenuous routine in which I don clothing appropriate for what I am about to undertake, fill a cooler, find a shady spot somewhere out beyond the belvedere of the chateau, string a hammock and exercise until either I run out of chilled beverages or wake up. It keeps me in tune, fit, vigorous, alert to my surroundings and generally happy. I find as the years pass that this routine has become easier, more congenial and more natural to one of my brio, energy and dispatch.

(from my training video)

This is not an entirely accurate account of things. These days, I actually do exercise indoors when the nasty weather rolls in to stay. I bought this hellish contraption called a TRX suspension trainer, basically a pair of straps with which you suspend yourself like a whore in a wharfside hotel, and execute various athletic gyrations by working against your own weight. At my age, when the gristle is long gone, the biceps attenuated, the body mass dwindled, it's like lifting 12 stone of lard with a pair of chicken wings.

 (from my recurring nightmare)

There was a time when I would simply have refused to do this, pleading inability, disability, lack of interest and the final waning of my vital spirits. The fact that I've sworn off alcohol for the rest of my natural life does make it easier to keep at it. Nowadays I strap myself in for a bout of manly exertion and let my thoughts seep and drift into a rosy, winey yesteryear. I call to mind the austere, dried floral tones of a Duhart-Milon-Rothschild '52 I drank one Christmas; or the attenuated, dusty fruit of a Brunello di Montalcino '55, or an Haut-Brion '62, which my notes remind me had the "fruitiness of a cherry meat."  Or the late-bottled Hooper's '37, almost as good as the '44. I recall in mid-repetition some '59 late harvest Alsatian gewurztraminers I once cellared. And drank. Such memories come with a price, but at least I have the memories, which means I never drank to forget as far as I can recall.

No, really, I couldn't . . .

My daily routine wouldn't impress a muscular apostle of the Puritan ethic. But Puritans, I seem to remember, are notorious for enjoying a good brisk strapping themselves, as far as they permit themselves to enjoy anything. I don't know - it may just be the vestiges of a Presbyterian rearing that makes this all seem a better course, but in the final analysis I wouldn't have wanted to start out this way. Better late than never, and maybe in this case better late than early.

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