Heat almost drove me inside. Too much around the middle from years of sedentary work then a sudden move to the country found me seriously unfit. A sprint uphill was the last thing I needed, but that is what I did.
Dan Langan, ninety plus was working on his property maybe two hundred metres away, his white mare marking where he was. I couldn’t see him but I could hear his axe creating echoes that bounced from the sandstone cliffs behind my house.
Working on my new cattle yard and loading race. I was puffing lightly, chain-sawing posts and rails, marveling at Dan, still chopping steadily, Crack-k! Crack-k! Crack-k! A short break and he would start again.
Each time he stopped I looked up. It was hot and I began to worry that he shouldn’t be chopping wood on such a hot day. But each time, there he was, moving between weedy shrubs on the hillside, back and forth to the horse then the axe would start again.
At the next break in chopping I again looked up the hill and saw him lying on the ground face down. After a few seconds of no movement I began walking towards him. Through the fence and still no movement so I broke into a run, my concern firing up my ill conditioned muscles to maximum effort up the rocky hill.
With the taste of blood in my mouth, I arrived by his side and took in the detail. He was lying there with his arm down a new post hole, scooping out the last of the dirt preparing to install a post, cut, trimmed and ready.
He rolled over slowly and sat up as I flopped to the ground.
“G’day young feller!’ he smiled. ‘Yer shouldn’t hold yer breath when you run.’
“Yer can alwiz pick a sprinter cos he holds his breath when he runs an yer can pick a stayer cos he breathes.’
‘Shit Dan, I thought you were dead!’
‘I’m orright but you’re not, yer silly bugger. You’re no sprinter, yer gotta breathe!’
I just fell back breathing heavily, my heart banging against my ribs trying to get out.
My eyes found the horse. She was quietly standing in a scrap of shade, black tail swishing flies and shivering her mane, big brown eyes calmly staring. She agreed with Dan and I agreed with her.
“Can’t argue with that!’ I mumbled as I struggled to my feet and shuffled home, breathing hard all the way. Definitely not a sprinter!