Thursday, December 8, 2011

Workout of the Week: Christmas Tree Hunting

One of the popular regular features on Marks Daily Apple is the Workout of the Week. They provide a wide variety of activities to keep you engaged with your workouts, but what I enjoy about them is that their movements are often inspired by real activities (from housework to aurochs-hunting). This approach keeps in line with the paleo-popular philosophies of MovNat, an approach to exercise based entirely on naturalistic movements and activities and something I must admit I am very curious about but have yet to look into deeply.

But the general gist I have taken to heart is this: find and take advantage of exercise opportunities in everyday life, and revel in them rather than be repulsed by them.

Thus as my mom's pickup truck, packed with all four members of my nuclear family, wound its way up a one-lane road crowded with cars and their bagged Christmas-tree quarry in the Santa Cruz mountains last weekend, I didn't dread the mud and the heavy lifting and the cold; instead, I looked forward to a new and unusual activity, even more the unusual for the fact that my family was doing it together.

That too is an aspect of the human experience that has been largely forgotten. Once upon a time, the standard culture was small family groups wandering across the mountains and the plains, working together to achieve goals and complete tasks. Compare that to the standard family life in America today, with everyone taking off in every direction in pursuit of their own goals. No wonder that now when families  have to come together to solve problems, they often have no idea how.

Rather than approaching our hunting grounds with spears and travois, though, we had a handsaw and a Nissan truck, but once we got to the farm and pulled into a spot off the muddy road, our hunting instincts began to be engaged. We strategized searching up-hill from where we parked, so that we would be able to haul the dead-weight carcass downhill once we found it. After a brief discussion of our desired variables, we spread out, calling back and forth (out loud, not on our phones) once we lost sight of one another in order to make sure we were going the same general direction. We chose our prey surprisingly rapidly, finding a nice-sized individual with a full and handsome spread. We took turns with the saw and my sister and I ducked in rapidly to catch the trunk as the tree started tilting to the ground. She and I negotiated a sturdy grip on the trunk and kept in verbal contact on the entire way back to the car as we negotiated its 10.5 foot length around other trees and over rocks. Once we got back to the car, our strength workout transitioned back to a cognitive one, as we figured out the best way to rope it into the truck-bed. Our kill bagged and mounted, my family piled back into the truck while I road proudly standing in the back, straddling our prize and gripping the roll-bar like we were on coniferous safari (at least, until we got to the exit to the farm).

It seems a small accomplishment, driving an hour away to cut a Christmas tree and bring it home, but the beautiful weather, clear air, and shocking degree of cooperation amongst my family to accomplish the task made it so much more in my mind. In a strangely oblique way, I felt that much closer to my ancestors, and as Frank Sinatra holiday songs filled the cab of the truck, I looked out the window and imagined I was looking out at a grassy, sub-glacial plain.

1 comment:

  1. Love this- you are such a sexy strong huntress.
    I look forward to someday replicating this activity!