Yesterday, I referred to being in bed for 10 hours and a "poacher's shovel". It occurs to me that both could use some explanation...
FIRST, the 10 hours in bed (and sometimes it is more). As a child, I was an early riser. In college, I took early morning classes because I was up and ready to go. My 35 year career had me up at 5 am to leave the house by 6 am to meet a carpool at 6:15 to get to work by 7 am.
When I retired in 2006, I just collapsed and went to late mornings. At first, I assumed it was just a temporary reaction to all those years of getting up real early and that I would get "back to normal". I didn't. I can only get myself out of bed before 10 hours if some contractor just HAS to be here at 9 am. And I feel wrong the whole day after.
Well yesterday I read an article about sleep patterns. I forget which magazine (National Geographic, Scientific American, one of those), that said we modern people are off our traditional sleep schedules. Basically, we wake up to artificial lights, stay up late with artificial lights, and go suddenly to bed after 16-18 hours of bright lights. Practically every gadget we own emits some light, and that has some effects.
According to the article, sleep research and historical research suggests that, before artificial illumination, we were awake after dark for a while and we used to have a different pattern of sleeping that involved a period in the middle of the night akin to meditation. Something like 4 hours of regular sleep, 2 hours of general semiwakeful calmness, and then 4 more hours of regular sleep.
There were writings from less modern era people regarding things like "after my first sleep" and (paraphrasing) "then after some restful thought, I returned to sleep". And history is full of examples of people who had great insights in that "restful thought time".
My jobs+commutes used up from 5 am to 6 pm every workday. Gave me 3 hours to make dinner, clean house, play with cats, do yardwork, etc, and then it was back to bed again to get 8 hours maximum sleep (even if I fell asleep at once, which seldom happened).
And it struck me that that's what I've been doing ever since I was freed from the requirements of regular job hours! I've been going to bed after an hour of low light, sleeping about 4 hours, laying in bed lightly awake and contemplating things as I lay there, and then drifting off again for another 4 hours or so.
I think I have been getting into that pattern because I have the bedroom completely blacked out. I put acoustical tile in the bedroom window years ago because the *%#@ Spring Peepers used to keep me awake at night. But it also blocks out the morning sun. And I keep the door nearly closed. It stays dark in my bedroom.
I think they may be on to something that we have lost. And that I have fallen into by fortunate happenstance.
SECOND, I referred to a "poacher's shovel". It's a narrow shovel.
Apparently, it was originally designed to be assembled from pieces (blade and handle that could fit unobtrusively in a backpack) onto a shaft that looked like a simple walking stick, it was used for digging valuable plants out from rich folks' gardens at night and leaving a small hole that could be easily filled in with surrounding soil.
Today (hopefully), it is more a convenient "foot-powered trowel" for getting at deep-rooted weeds among flowerbeds. I love mine! Brambles are hard to dig up among my flowers and against the garden stone borders. This can get into the tighter spots, and it cuts fewer flower roots.
I just thought that was worth explaining...