When Brian Hades and I were discussing themes for Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) one of the possibilities he suggested was optimistic speculative fiction. I pounced on that idea for two reasons. First, because I’d just recently become aware of solarpunk (largely through Sarena Ulibarri) and was excited to work on an anthology that might include some and second because I’d become convinced that we were living in the darkest timeline.
That was in 2016. I had no idea how much darker it could become.
Still, despite a very difficult couple of years, I manage to find reasons for optimism. Lights in the darkness. And I’m not alone in that.
In the coming weeks I will be hosting a series of blog posts I’m calling “Bright Spots in the Darkest Timeline”. Each will be written by a Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) contributor and I think they will serve the dual purpose of giving me an excuse to talk about the anthology, and shining a bit of light into people’s lives.
Today we continue with this contribution from Lisa Timpf about, well, keepin’ on.
One Step at a Time
By Lisa Timpf
Step with non-operative leg, swing cane in rhythm with operated leg. Step, swing, step, swing. In the weeks since my total knee replacement operation, the mechanics of walking with a cane had become automatic. Maybe I didn’t move as fast as I had in my twenties, but I managed to get to my destination, one step at a time.
The temperature was warm on this May afternoon. Spring had been long in coming this year, but it appeared to have arrived at last. After weeks of being cooped up indoors, reluctant to risk wiping out on ice or slipping on snow, it felt liberating to be outdoors. To celebrate the return of more clement weather, we’d decided to work on the vegetable garden.
But being less than ten weeks recovered from knee surgery, I was in to no condition to operate the tiller or bend over to plant seeds. Those tasks would fall to my partner, instead. Never one to enjoy watching others work, I leaned against a tree and looked around for something I could do.
And that’s when I noticed the asparagus patch, a legacy left by the property’s former owners. Asparagus doesn’t like weeds, I reminded myself as I studied the three small, roughly circular beds. There were no signs, as yet, of asparagus spears poking through the earth, but it wouldn’t be long. Meanwhile, clumps of grass, wild violets, and other interlopers were insinuating themselves into the open patches of soil.
With the aid of my cane, I lurched up the eight-inch step into the garden shed. I grabbed my gardening stool and a hand-held cultivator with my free hand, then made my way to the asparagus patch. It took me a couple of tries to figure out the best way to lower myself onto the stool. My ultimate method of choice would likely have made my physiotherapist cringe, but I managed to get settled into place nonetheless, my still-healing left leg stretched out as I carefully tugged weeds out of the soil to make room for the coming crop.
The nature of the work left my mind free to wander, and I found myself thinking back on the past few weeks. Sometimes, battling against stiffness in my knee as I performed the exercises designed to improve flexion and extension, I’d wondered whether recovery would ever come. And yet, that day, warmed by the ever-strengthening sun, the simple act of digging my fingers into the soil helped restore my faith. Surrounded by new growth and fortified by the spring air, I finally felt certain that the frustrating stiffness and lack of mobility would become a thing of the past, and I would once again be able to perform some of the tasks I’d had to leave to other family members this year.
Maybe I wasn’t the picture of speed as I painstakingly moved from a completed section of the bed to the next area needing attention, but I was making progress, albeit one step at a time.
And sometimes, that’s enough.
Lisa Timpf is a retired Human Resources and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her writing has appeared in a number of venues, including New Myths, Third
Flatiron, Star*Line, Liquid Imagination, and The Martian Wave. When not writing, Lisa enjoys bird-watching, golf, organic gardening, and spending outdoor time with her border collie,