A while back I posted an article describing the process that brought me to the point of realizing I could retire, and the subsequent decision to do so. Or, at least schedule the event.
Throughout the research and decision-making process, the recurring theme in articles I read, videos I watched and in conversations with friends already down the retirement road: Have a plan for the time that used to be occupied by “work”.
Perhaps that’s stating the obvious, but time and again recently retired people struggle with how to fill their days. The workplace consumes a large part of adult life, especially for Americans. Just as we try to guide and plan our working careers, I think the same must be done for what comes after working, else we run the risk of doing nothing. Or, to put it as one of my former co-workers said of a contemporary when we were discussing retirement: “He spends too much time in front of the TV”.
I’ve been fortunate to have a few interests that should carry forward into this new adventure. None of these can honestly be put into the “passionate” category, but they are pursuits and activities that I’ve come to enjoy. Gardening is one that’s held my interest for about twenty years now.
I still find it strange that gardening grabbed my attention and held it. When young I had absolutely zero interest in it. I recall my father tried his hand at it a couple of times, but there was no attraction there for me. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I gave it a serious go while living in Western Maine. I started like most, by preparing a large dirt patch, and then planting too many things too close together. The results were variably marginal at best.
I didn’t give up on it, but began researching, and talking with folks that had been gardeners for a while. It’s amazing how quickly results can be improved when good advice is followed, and my dirt patch gardening began yielding more and more, year over year.
Along the way I discovered raised beds, and my gardening migrated towards using more of them, and less directly in the dirt. The soil in the beds is easier to manage, as are the crops, and this is my preferred method of gardening. The current garden is going into its fourth year in 2022, and encompasses fourteen 4’ x 8’ raised beds. I find maintaining the garden each year challenging and rewarding, as other posts on this site will describe. We do not travel too far from the house for very long during the growing and harvest seasons.
Which leads me to the other thing that’s important, but not quite at the passionate level- travel. Both I and my wife like to hit the road and visit new places, as well as return to places we discovered earlier, and enjoy.
We’ve taken many trips over the years, and some of them have been great. I recall one of the better trips years ago when the kids were young. We lived in Maine then, and cruised up into Canada and explored Nova Scotia. We flew out to Denver, rented a car and explored the Southwest. Our trip a few years ago to Ireland was also a road trip. We started in Dublin and spent a couple weeks driving clockwise around the Republic visiting all of the usual places, and some off the beaten path. Even Italy was a road trip of sorts, but thankfully we were not driving.
There have been many other trips, but I’m sure you get the idea. Travel is going to be a big part of our plans outside of the gardening season. There are many.many places we want to see, both in America and the rest of the world. North American trips shouldn’t be a problem, and we’ll see what happens with the overseas destinations as the Plague Panic recedes in the rearview mirror.
So, gardening and travel are the big things, complementary calendar-wise, and are activities that involve both myself and Wife. There are a few other pursuits I plan to continue, or resuscitate.
Time and again I’ve been a fisherman, delving deeply into the sport, then putting it down, sometimes for many years, but always returning to pick it up again. I don’t know why it’s gone this way, as I grew to truly enjoy the pursuit, especially flyfishing.
I bought my first fly rod when I was a youngster, probably when I was 14 or 15 years old. I still have it. A Phillipson Swamp Fox 6-weight fiberglass beauty. If I recall, I bought it for $50 at Sid White’s Sporting Goods store, and paid for it a little each week over the course of a spring and summer. That rod was for bass and pickerel, as the part of Massachusetts where I grew up had long depleted any trout that lived there. I caught my fair share of both when young, and then later living on Thompson Lake in Maine used that rod for landlocked salmon.
During my last active fishing period, I’d settled upon only flyfishing, and mostly for trout. Occasionally bass and salmon, but trout from moving water was the thing, and not to brag, I became pretty good at it. I could look at a river and know where the trouts lived, and more often than not catch a few. Now that I live in a completely new watershed, I think I’ll break out the trout gear again this spring. I checked out the fly boxes a couple weeks ago, and although they’re all ten or more years old, the flies look serviceable, as does most of the equipment. I will rejoin the sport as an official old fart, as my kit will attest.
To round out the activities, I plan to continue walking, hiking and climbing in the woods and hills. I’ve done this forever, and plan to continue until I cannot do it anymore. I’ll have plenty of posts on those treks, once the weather improves. Mountain hiking in the winter no longer has any fascination for me; I’ve nothing left to prove.
So there you have it. Gardening, traveling, fishing and hiking. I think it’ll be enough for a solid beginning into the post-work world. And writing will be a thread that weaves through all of the above, but not for the reason you may think. I’ll get into that in another article soon.