Hard work, sore muscles

For the past two weekends, I have been helping my brother build a deck at his cabin.
I chuckle when I think about this and our competitive nature when my father used the two of us to carry lumber to our cabin on Turtle Island. Over 45 years ago, we bragged about how many studs we could march up the hill to the building site.
We showed off our strength when we carried 2”x8” joists up the hill. We had maxed out on being able to carry 12 studs at a time.
The joists were a bigger challenge, trying to wrap you arms and hands around a bigger bundle. Don could always carry more of those joists than I could.
We each figured out how to carry several sheets of sheeting at a time. Nothing seemed to faze us.
When we built our deck, we manhandled 3-16 foot 2”x6”s at a time up the hill. Sometimes we did it with our arms wrapped around the bundle and other times by flipping the boards onto our shoulders.
That was twenty-five years ago. We were still in our prime, and didn’t even feel winded as we wound our way up the hill to the cabin.
Over 45 years later from building the cabin, trying to haul pressure treated 2”x6”s around, my capacity had dwindled to a single board. Up to 12 feet long, I was able to balance the board easily. Once beyond that length, the wood was a struggle.
If the boards were eight inches thick, then two of us would carry a single board that was 14 or 16 feet-long.
I almost felt ashamed of my loss of strength. I took some solace in realizing that the wood was so soaked with pressure treating liquid that added tens of pounds to the piece of pine. By the end of the day, my arms felt like they were dragging on the ground.
Earlier in the week, raising the tent at the waterfront, I was surprised that I lacked the strength to lift the occasional tent post. A much younger person would come along and move the post without any seeming effort.
I put that off as being the time of the day. But getting a little bit older seems to have made me weaker.
I had taken up masters swimming this year to build stamina and aerobic capacity. But the heat of Sunday seemed to sap all of my energy. By mid-afternoon, we were doing everything in slow motion except for guzzling back pints of water.
Somehow over the course of two weekends of deck building, both my shoulders now seem sore most of the time.
I probably have overexerted the muscles or tendons in my desire to relive the glory days of my younger days when carrying lumber from the boat to the cabin site seemed such a lark.
There will be a next time for building something on the lake and maybe I will be smarter and more cautious when carrying heavy materials.

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