Thursday, April 5, 2012


There was a solid hint of green apparent as I hiked the native shortgrass prairie of the EJE Ranch Tuesday morning. There’s not a lot of grass growth yet, but it’s coming, and the leaf buds on shrubs and trees are beginning to grow fat.

Even though we’ve had a comparatively mild winter it felt good to stretch my legs and work up a good hiking sweat in the pre-spring sunshine. The wind was a bit annoying but the warm temperatures kept it from cutting the way most March winds do in this part of the country.

Springtime hikes can be pleasant and this one was especially so.
A windmill turns briskly in the morning breeze as the prairie south of Kimball begins to green up as spring approaches.

December 23 seems like a long time ago.

If you've ever thought about or studied the physical nature of time and of our subjective perception of time, you'll recognize that the first sentence of this essay doesn't really say anything. By the way we usually count the passage of time, and if you read this on the date of publication, 75 days will have passed since Dec. 23. Seventy-five days can be a very brief or a very long period, depending on your perspective.

It's been both for me.

I've been very busy each day, attending to ranch chores, researching and writing, caring for a new and rapidly growing border Collie puppy, serving on a local committee, hiking the shortgrass prairie and snapping thousands of images with my trusty digital camera. The NFL playoffs and Super Bowl have come and gone, Major League Baseball held their winter meetings and started spring training, the NASCAR season began in spectacular fashion; Danica got wrecked but finished the race and my favorite Wisconsin driver won the 500.

Those things all seemed to proceed at a normal pace and I found a lot of joy in each event, in every day.

On the other hand, I've been fighting a closed-head brain injury since Dec. 23, and suffering from post-concussion syndrome. A little less joyful.

I've had generalized memory problems, trouble recognizing faces and people, and big chunks of missing memory. Most irritating has been my struggle to write. Where once the words seemed to flow from a bottomless well, I've had to fight hard to put simple sentences and paragraphs together since the injury. My flowing well became a creaky, leaky hand pump, and I've had to work very hard indeed to produce the thoughts and the concepts to write about and then to fit words into a ghastly semblance of what I'm trying to say.

That part of the last 75 days has been a struggle and seems to have lasted a very long time indeed.

But my brain seems finally to be wiring itself back to a semblance of normalcy. My thoughts are becoming more clear and less cluttered. On the one hand, it's been an amazing experience. On the other, it's been quite frightening. Knowing that there's something wrong with your thinking and lacking the ability to "snap it back to normal" is unsettling, to say the least.

Hopefully I'll continue to emerge from the morass of mushed-up thinking. I believe I'm making good progress. Already the words flow more easily, the gaps in memory are almost unnoticeable, and most faces are associated with familiar names. As spring approaches the lengthening days and warmer sunshine seem to be a tonic for my addled brain. Or perhaps spring’s approach is just a coincidence, and the physicians are right – it just takes time.

So I'll just keep banging on, taking it one day at a time, and see how things progress. As If I have any other choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment