Over the Hill
Peter Wotton was an avid bicycler around the city of Eugene. His bicycle ride to the KLCC broadcast studios located on the campus of Lane Community College was the subject of "Elderberry Wine" commentary #73, "Over the Hill," broadcast on October 19, 1983.
Over the Hill
#73 -- October 19, 1983
What does it mean to be "over the hill"? Next month I'll be sixty-three, so I guess by somebody's lights I certainly must be "over the hill." It always seems to have a negative connotation, and I don't know why that has to be. What I'm thinking about is an image of a hill, and of a person climbing up that hill. And the person climbing up is me, and I've got a lot of backpacks and other kinds of things that I'm carrying, and I'm pulling some ropes, and on the ropes are some other people--kids and others--that I'm pulling along with me.
And I climb the hill, and I climb it year after year. Sometimes it's really scrabbly and hard, and sometimes it's just sort of monotonous. And I keep going up the hill, and finally I get up near the crest. And as I get up near the top of the hill if I get to take off my backpack, and I get to take off the ropes, and by this time there aren't so many people depending on me. And I get up to the point where I can see the enormously beautiful view in all directions, and from that point on, what I consider is that it's all down hill. And that's a good kind of down hill.
The other kind of "over the hill" I'm thinking of is this morning I rode my bicycle from Hilyard and 30th Avenue up over the hill to KLCC so I could work in the studio this morning. The reason I did this is that my family has one car, and my wife and the boys are off for the weekend in the car, and there is no bus service to KLCC on a Saturday morning. I have tried hitch-hiking that hill before, and it isn't too successful. So I decided I would ride my bicycle over the hill. I rode my bicycle up the hill, coasted beautifully down the other side of the hill, and am now in the studio recording this program.
For me it was a special challenge the first time I did it, and it was a sort of challenge this time. Because in 1976, when I was 55 years old, I had a heart attack. Not the small warning type of heart attack, but the full-scale blast--the one that really makes it a question of whether you're going to live or die. A few months after that I started walking, then running, and since then I've done a lot more bicycle riding, and other things, and I believe now that my heart is considerably stronger than it was then. It's just an illustration of how, with the proper exercise, always, of course, under a doctor's advice, we can get our strength up to what it was before.
So now I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. I have the hill to go back up again when I return, but I had it in mind when I was thinking of the idea of being "over the hill." And this morning I have to tell you that I'm really glad to be "over the hill" because that was a hill that was a challenge; and the other thing about it is, how really delightful it is once you get "over the hill," once you get on the other side and you can coast, without effort at all, and the breeze just whistles past you, and it's such a beautiful feeling. That's what I like to think being "over the hill" can be like.