Treeplanting Sagas: Chapter 4

After tramping for four days from Huntsville to Manitoba I arrived at the county of Piney to start living and sleeping in my tent. The site though seemed not chosen with great foresight. It was extremely windy, so intense that it took me almost 2 hours to set up, and I had only the choice of a grass field or sparse woods. I took the latter and it was wisely done, on the 4th day planting it began to rain and continued for 3 more days becoming more discomforting as time bore on. The rain turned to pouring torrents and the wind began to gust. This is not unlike treeplanting though, thus we went out planting in it. The third day of the rain and wind was too severe for me, after nearly 2 hours of bearing the cold, I felt hypothermic, shivering uncontrollably and unable to function. One of the tests of being a treeplanter is the endurance to suffer, and expectancy of struggle. I put dry clothes on and walked back to a warm vehicle, but a few hours later found myself out in the wind and rain once more. The treeplanting truck had become lodged in the mud and our bus, stuck behind it, one facing the other on a one way logging road. It took 13 planters including myself to dig trenches and fill them with logs and meadow grass to dislodge the wheels from the muck. Then we had to push it out from the same craters it had made. My body has taken on a new level of fitness, but with it, an undesirable condition. I have been burned, lacerated, numbed, bitten, pestered by crawling insects, overtired, and filthy. It is extremely important to keep a disciplined cleansing routine, as I personally see the need of restoration if the chosen deeds are this hard and inflicting. Respecting your body to the point of taking some extra rest instead of only planting all the time. The flow of my planting has been more refined since the early season, and I am consistently planting above 2500 trees a day with several about 3K and one of 4K. This is roughly 425 trees an hour with short breaks in between. I have planted 48,742 trees so far, and need to plant roughly 60-70,000 trees for my migration plans to England, which means 21,258 left.

The new presence of different animals has made my stay very pleasurable. I listen to the cranes while planting or during the crepuscular hours when they hover aloft my forest dwelling and make their tumbling caw. The magpies gracefully meander leaving a trail of such melodious birdsong, with sound frequencies unlike any other avian I have heard. The black bears roam, although they are not seen often methinks on the flat land here. The wood grouse hides away and beats its incessant wing tunes. I have had the privelage to share my patch of forest with a robin who perches on her nest every night, protecting 3 blue eggs, and found another newly hatched. A bald eagle floated just a couple meters in front of our treeplanting vehicle while driving, and I stared in awe at it’s graceful movements through the ether. While I write this I can hear coyotes yelping and howling a couple acres off. My bone collection has been growing quite progressively, and I have acquired both a moose and cattle skull, with several ribs, spinal bones, femur and tibula which I have ideas to make a kanlin horn from, deer bones, with a hoof and some fur. Living in the forest, and being outside 24 hours a day, you become  truly exposed, and also vulnerable to the cycles and conditions around you. I wake at dawn, roughly a couple minutes after 5 and my body feels in its sensual state, with a readiness to do work, and I tire some time after sunset, like the farmers timeclock, where I spend the last hours in solitude reading or listening to music, There are still some planting days left in the Manitoba province before the move to Eastern Ontario. I will be continuing a more vigorous Yoga routine, and organizing my evening hours even more closely to have the most personal time possible in the new location.

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