"My face is cracked like a joke", Joanna says it best. I am cracking. Thank you for coming.
Thank you for coming back to this place again and again all you beauties. Time is flying here in the Trout forest. June 10th already. We have crushed the K Town contract (rude Kenora) and then the terrifying burn Blocks of the Sioux Lookout contract in the sandy Pine lands. Now we are living in a mud hole bush camp in the northern northern northern spruce land of the Trout forest down so many logging roads; we are not even a point on the map. The roads are unfathomable at times. Life is good. Hard. We (36 of us planters, six staff lead the way: Klinck our tireless boss, Birdman (my foreman), Joe, Bram, Molly, Christian the cook who saves the sanity of our palettes daily.
Good leaders here.
We laugh a lot. We are family now. Last night was Bush New Years eve, every one was savage and beyond dirty. Most of our ripper nights have themes of late. Last Ripper was Christmas with a secret santa exchange and the biggest slab of cake I haver never seen the likes. Eddie rolled me three perfect Toronto joints along with a box of Dream Tea and a 40 of booze. Merry Christmas! Okay, where to begin? I write on here because the idea of writing to all of you (you know who you are) undoes me. I will start with today:
June 10th, day off. Thank goodness. Shift seven is upon us, looming like a fire breathing demon and the idea of another day without contact was starting to make me crazy. Said upcoming shift is going to be a six day blast that will probably kill me. It is an intense life these days. We plant hard, we are gardening and pounding at the same time. Dad I think of you every time I plant a perfect tree (often, no big.... 'Quality Builders, Quality Planters', that will be my crew name. Quality Planters over here, which is imperative. Yesterday my spirit shattered while planting the back forty of this incredibly savage death muck swamp (no trenches, every step was potentially my last, there are no words; it was beyond anything I have ever planted in my lifetime)and I dropped my bags and fell into it, it swallowed my body whole and I wept for Mitch for three minutes. The hardest weep sweep of my life. I cry a lot.
Our amazing tree quality checker, Molly (incredible woman) has found me weeping in my land countless times. But through all the weeping I am learning so much. Mum told me on the phone today, "Remember Megs, whatever you earn you don't have to borrow" and upon hearing those words I have never felt more proud to be a hard working Kroeker. Okay mum, I will keep my head up, I will keep going. I am constantly drilling myself for my loose memory that allows information to slip through the cracks like a sieve (siv, strainer?). Who knows. Regardless, it looks very much like I will have my own crew next summer which is INTENSE and exciting beyond words. There are many jobs to be done at all times in a bush camp and thus far I have learned how to light pilot lights, fill propane, drive giant vehicles, use the cardloc, check the oil, drive the quad through the rude loaded with five passengers (that was an intense day I will not soon forget). Thus, I am well taken care of here. Bram, my secondary foreman has started taking me to the Block for lessons in cache building, land management, cutting land, map testing ("where are we on the Block map right now Meg?". I have to answer lightening fast using a twig from the road and point on the map between us with the butt end. Here. Right. Good. Phewph. Maps are tricky here. Lately, it has been my responsibility to drive the King of the Road (Klinck's truck, savage beast) or Bird's pickup home from the Block. I drive like the devil. Bird and Bram have both taught me to drive properly. We work hard, get up at 530, get our gear in order, check the vehicles, hammer to the Block, get in the land as quick as possible, plant hard in this crazy forest (clearcut) and then get the hell out as fast as possible to get home to eat and then sleep (like the dead). No one speaks in sentenses here anymore. We understand each other and there is such an incredible sense of community.
The camp is incredible (not the living conditions, I mean the spirit of the people). Last year was something else, but this year I understand what it means to plant, to be a person who plants trees. It is a package deal and everyday someone yells "PUSSIES GO HOME" at the tailgate meeting just to remind everyone we are in this together. And let me tell you, we are in the shit. Bodies are starting to fall apart. My boots have gone to die and my right foot is being held together by one thousand swipes of duct tape. And yet, I love it here. It is a special place where you can be whoever, whenever. Everyone I have met this season have these incredible qualities that I never knew existed. I think it is safe to say that we have a camp of superstars. Superstars for no other reason than we are all what we are. Fin.
And I am in love.
So in love with my guy it hollows me out and at times I walk or run around my land like a hollow stump of a girl, all willowy and lean and lonely. Molly has found me laughing and writing Mitch an audible letter, and also curled up in the softest spots of my land into my sorry limbs like a lost fox. Colt calls me Meggs and Bakey or Mama Bear. Bird calls me Swiper the Fox, Queen of the Road, Quad Girl, and sister (my favorite). That man. The constant Gardner, teacher, friend. This photo is for him and his family. Bird, I do not have words to express my appreciation for all you have taught me this season. Teaching with your right hand guiding and pointing and punctuating all the parts of the story you are telling through the windsheild of the bus and your left drawing an Export A to your mouth and down into your lungs. That man, always on the butts. What an incredible teacher. Just the other day, Bird and I rolled to town in the pick up to pick up the food order for the week and the amount of information I lapped up in that three hour window was nuts. How do tires work? How does an engine run? What is an air filter for? Why is grease the most important thing in the world? How do airplanes work? How did it feel to see Motorhead with your boys in matching leather jackets? Yikes, the stories are innumerable and I am writing down EVERYTHING this time.
How are all of you? I best be off to the laundry again. Fuck the wash. Sorry Helen, but seriously. I will leave you all with this savage admission: my clothes are soiled beyond belief and when I realized that all the washers were snapped up (devils) I didn't even think twice and threw my sweaty, damp gross closet into the dryer. Fuck the wash. I am on the soil, hard. The stink keeps the deer flies and the black flies a baby bit at bay.
Okay, one last thing, today at the Lakeview diner for breakfast (grilled cheese and a chocolate milk shake), Eddy, Pat and I ate the entire meal without realizing that Trudy, our server forgot cutlery. Off the cutlery. One of the planters, Tony, has long lost his plate and every day I see him eat from a new vessel. Yesterday he ate his spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread, and cake out of a water jug cut in half. We are in it now, and there is no choice but to keep pounding in those trees. I love you all and rest assured that I think of each one of you reading this on the regular.
With so much feeling,
Queen of the Road.
Below, behold. Birdman and Charlotte, his little girl.
|Like father like daughter; Kenora, Ontario, 2010.|