Day Sixteen: Poise
Dirt, mud, blisters, strains, sprains, ice packs, ibuprofen, muscle aches, joint aches, tendonitis, somewhere between sixty and six hundred dollars a day, cuts, scrapes, rolling Drum tobacco in the rain, uphill, downhill, forty pounds on your hips, laundry that never really gets clean, holes in your boots, broken laces, torn rain gear, cheap motels, chicken wings, The Planter's Ball. Some of us will travel after this, some will go back to another year at school, some have families, some a mortgage. We work hard; we play hard; we go home.
Tonight we were greeted in the parking lot by our supervisor's smile and several flats of cold beer. Even though the only redeeming quality of days like these is that they are over, it is evident that we're all grateful to be here. Other than beer and this parking lot, the things we share are mostly intangible: relief, pride, determination, a respectable balance between the joys and frustrations of this job. Things exist in this camaraderie that could not anywhere else—the lovers we take, the parties we have, the money we bring home—and it's worth the filth and ache and gristle of it. Tree planting is not so much a seasonal job but a way of life, hemmed in by unspoken rules and the echo of lives beyond this evening, beyond long truck rides on dusty roads and the penetrating smell of pine.
Fast moving lines along broad shouldered highways will soon carry us all back home—to Montreal, to Pemberton and Whistler, to Toronto, to Vancouver Island. But for now we are together, coasting between who we were and what we will become—a secret we share with the sky.