Today was a bit melancholic. It’s our last Sunday working here in the Gnome Cafe. Tomorrow is our last regular day of work as the season comes to an end. School is back in session, and the number of campers coming through the week won’t justify keeping the cafe open through the week. However, there still will be one more hurrah as we’ve agreed to provide the cuisine for the great Halloween fest at October’s end. It amazes both Robin and I how quickly the past three months have gone by and how enjoyable this work stint was. We almost feel guilty picking up our paychecks as working here is a labor of love along with being so much fun. This coming Saturday, we leave for Pittsburgh, as my brain surgery is scheduled for the following Wednesday. We plan on just relaxing and hopefully getting in some golf this week but that remains to be seen. After work, I headed out for my daily walk. I’ve been doing between five and six miles for the past two months. Never is the course on flat ground. It’s all hills, up and down. And I force myself to get out there in the middle of the afternoon, purposely when the heat is at its height. My sole purpose was to get myself in much better shape in order to rebound from surgery much in a more timely fashion. Dropping a few pounds may have been an added bonus but it wasn’t in the original scheme of things. I have been able to find the will to do this almost every day. I’ve missed only a few days when road trips back to Pittsburgh warranted doctors’ visits. But as I walk, this sense for surgery rebound has given way to a warped quest for discomfort. At my age, there are aches and pains daily. That’s normal with most of us. The knee hurts from an old football injury, the back from a surgical discectomy. My lungs burn as the rebuilt trachea is much smaller in diameter than it used to be. Lastly, the left hip still bears witness of the lady who smacked me to the asphalt while sitting on my motorcycle at the filling station. But instead of pampering these aches, I like to taunt them. I find that satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment emanates from a certain degree of misery. Without a modicum of pain, the effort seems useless. So I’ll continue up and down the hills of Lancaster county, in the heat of the day, changing nothing but adding to the distance. And sure, the discomfort will increase a bit each day. The aches accompanying each step but the trade-off is a greater sense of satisfaction for withstanding that distress. Ahh, what sweet nectar is the misery of hurt.