Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Does a Doctor Do for Fun?

     My favorite thing to do is nothing.  I don't have a lot of time to do this--my job and family still lay claim to most of my attention.  But once in a while when no one is around and I'm not hidebound to finish a task I go outside and sit in a lawn chair.  By the time I know what's happened three or four hours have elapsed.
     Next to doing nothing, I enjoy watching the chickens.  If you haven't had chickens you should get some.  They are endlessly fascinating.  Here's a fact for the pragmatist:  if one in three Americans had chickens we would put the entire poultry industry out of business.  If you know anything about slaughterhouses you can appreciate the urgency of this information.
     Backyard chickens have become such a fad in America that many cities are lifting their ordinances against keeping farm animals.  It's costing too much to enforce the rules, and maybe city officials want chickens, too--you can't blame them.  Yesterday I spent several hours with my twelve Barred Rock and Delaware's among piles of leaf compost under the Live Oak trees, where they scratched and pecked with energetic deliberation.  I observed that they prefer black beetles over fire ants, and thin green worms over wireworms.  How do they catch the frenetic moths buried in leaf mold, and what sixth sense tells the rest of the band when a colony of larvae has been unroofed twenty yards away?   Fetching brown eggs from hay in their nest boxes has to be one of the charms of my life, and last night's twelve-egg souffle completely made up for the week's frustrations. 
     My sons are grown and mostly gone, but sometimes we still hang out together.  It's not the same as the lively years when they were boys making a gopher tortoise "zoo," following deer tracks and building tree forts, but a day canoeing on the Suwannee River followed by dinner and some card games--concessions to make me happy (they'd rather be on their computers)--consolidates our feelings for one another until the next time we're in the same locale.  I've encouraged them to "follow their dreams" but didn't realize it would take them so far afield:  Vermont, China, Senegal, California, Chicago, the Netherlands.  
     Tennis, Scrabble and ping-pong are my other pastimes.  And hanging out the laundry.  There is something about seeing clothes and towels gyrating in the breeze that satisfies a deep, biological, longing, possibly a feminine one.  I like weeding the garden, planting herbs and flowers, and harvesting pumpkins.  In the evenings I read.  Looking at this list makes me realize that it should be easy for me to grow old.
     My doctor friends have other avocations.  Many of them dream about the time when they will not have to practice medicine any longer.  One left medicine to teach high school science.  Another is going to law school.  Many travel abroad in their free time, or ski, or sail.  The rest are calculating how little they need to retire, even speculating on land in cheaper and less politically charged countries.  But where are those countries?  Equador?  Costa Rica?  El Salvador?  Bali?  Are they really better than the United States?  And how do people pick up their roots and replant them in a faraway land?  What would I do with my chickens?   What would my chickens do without me?   

No comments:

Post a Comment