Back in high school, track and field practices started in mid-March. They were brutal. Our coach, Mr. Monroe, had a ‘no pain, no gain’ theory of success. He probably drove more students away from fitness than he recruited for competition. He was a big believer in endless wind-sprints. You could tell who ran track because the halls were filled with the limping, groaning, victims of his torture sessions.

I had a secret weapon. I was already insane. I had started running daily, at age nine–before “jogging” was a thing. By high school, I logged in two or three miles early every morning, before school. So March was not a challenge for me. But someone told Mr. Monroe that I’d been running all along, which triggered him to focus on “full-body fitness.” I’m sure it wasn’t just because of me, but he countered with circuit training, a series of exercise stations that everyone had to complete, that included upper-body work-outs. It was the great equalizer. I could barely lift my arms enough to dial in the combination to my locker. Mr. Monroe grinned, and told me I’d thank him for it, someday.

These days, my spring workout begins when the trees arrive. They came this week. 206 trees. The vendors hold the trees until it’s planting time in your zip code. This is the earliest that we’ve ever received trees. Some are destined for a ‘slash and stash’ planting on the slopes of our forest. Some, orchard grade trees, get the full spa treatment–deep hole, lavishly amended, with a landscape cloth skirt, mulch cover and full fencing cage. Since these are usually larger trees, with more expense and risk, they go in first.

We’re putting in some walnut trees this year. Just a couple, at first, to see how they do. I’m hopeful, with visions of a small walnut grove–which is crazy. I’d be lucky to live long enough to see a walnut. In the meantime, they have lovely, deep green foliage, and make great shade trees. I’ve picked low-juglans varieties–which shouldn’t be too problematic for the foliage around them, and they’re planted with some distance from all, but a few ratty red pines. Mature walnuts can be toxic to the trees around them. They’re getting the full spa planting, and I ache to my bones with the digging. Upper body.

Unless it rains, I won’t be blogging much in the next two weeks. It’ll take us that long to get the rest of these babies safely into the ground. It’s a schlep, up and down steep hills, carrying shovels, planting medium, trees and water. Most of it, is upper-body. Thanks, Mr. Monroe.