Gravity Always Wins !

We begin our explorations on all fours, crawling about on hands and knees imitating the family pet.

It is a sure way to explore the house, but it is such a slow way to travel! We watch the older people around us and realize that walking on two feet is much better and faster. We are encouraged by the older people to learn to walk; they set us up on our feet and yell “Come here, boy.” The dog runs by, knocking us off balance, and we experience our very first fall. We cry and the people yell at the dog and then yell at each other for letting the baby fall.

Most people don’t count the number of times they fall while learning to walk but I did, and it was at least 117. It is humiliating to fall while wearing a diaper, and there is absolutely no graceful way to get up. Eventually we master balance on our feet -- until we get our first pair of hard sole shoes. We quickly learn that shoes with strings can be very tricky and result in more falls and humiliation. Keeping strings tied is the secret to shoes, and learning to tie strings is no more complicated than learning to play the banjo.

Kid learning comes so fast and is based on the carrot/stick rewards program where you earn your way by learning stuff. Real pants, shoes, zippers, haircuts are all gradual steps toward the master plan and a place called school. Watching other kids make mistakes is a great way to learn through their errors. Everyone makes mistakes, and the teachers are paid to write them down in the grade book. Even play time was a recorded event where hostile play and retribution could result in a bad or poor conduct grade. (Bad conduct grades are scars kids wear for life).

Sooner or later every kid had to go see Miss Hoggard, the school nurse, a lady who carried needles and red medicine for skinned knees and elbows. She often patrolled the playground patiently waiting for someone, anyone, to bleed. Once she had to tape up a teacher who tripped at second base and sprained her wrist and broke her watch. It was a big Timex; they are not supposed to stop ticking but that one did!

Each time there was an injury a report had to be written and reviewed by the principal. There were lots of injuries at school because there were lots of ways to get hurt. The stairs were a reliable way to fall and almost everyday somebody did. Softball sounds safe enough, but it produced pounds of scabs every season. Sitting on the bleachers was not without hazard; splinters were a source of pain, as were the wasps.

Falling down was the most frequent way to get hurt, and Nurse Hoggard painted a half dozen knees and elbows every day. It became our elementary school Red Badge of Courage. As we progressed through school, the games became faster and more competitive, and the girls learned to fight with hairbrushes. Football games were brutal, and an ambulance stood by at every game for those who fell down with the ball and were then trampled.

Falling down is a hazard for all of us from age one until the last one. We never really learn to fall down properly, and we spend our leisure time on water skis, snowboards, under parachutes or riding horses, to name a few possibilities. We live in an environment where a hospital helicopter pad is considered a necessity. We have grown beyond the “bounce back age” and now realistically fear the inevitable fall because US/WE seniors mend so slowly. Our community consists of those who have fallen and those who will fall because gravity is unrelenting!

Winter before last I joined the club by stepping into a snow-covered hole and striking my knee on a snow-covered boulder in our barnyard. My summer physical revealed a small hairline crack in my left leg bone just below my left knee. Not being one to complain much, I just ignored the slight pain and figured working in the garden would make it better and it did. I now reluctantly realize that for me falling has become a winter morning sport. One January morning I ventured out to the enclosed back porch at 5 a.m. to read the thermometer. Goldie cat (age 14) followed me in the dark and after I tripped over a stack of magazines, I fell on him. My right wrist was hurt but not as much as his left rear leg. We took him to the veterinarian fearing the worst, but a thorough examination revealed no broken bones. That made my wrist feel better just knowing that Goldie would be okay. After about three weeks, we were no worse for the wear but more aware than ever that gravity is a necessary evil.

Since my fall we have learned of neighbors with broken arms and pelvic bones that resulted from falls. One of the features that draws people to Highland County is the beautiful uneven terrain known as mountains. When enjoying the mountains, it is best to STOP and stand STILL while looking away from your feet. It will perhaps prevent a ride in the ambulance where the view is simply awful.


February and March are snowy months…look before you leap or just wait for the official snow movers and the sunshine. And then walk, don’t leap!