These pictures are from February 12th. The week before, one of our truckers, who had recently fallen ill, passed out in the kitchen here at work and smacked his head on a metal pole. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. By February 12th, I too was feeling quite ill, and so I chose to believe that if I could not lose consciousness or strike my head against something cold and hard, I would be alright.
One week passes. I have driven to Quebec City for a work symposium. I believe I am getting over my sickness. I squeal with delight at a tray heaped full of croissants and pains au chocolat. I eat one, I have a cup of tea. Shortly after, while settling into the conference, something starts to feel… wrong. I become disastrously ill. I struggle to stay awake. I run to the bathroom and puke out my guts. I return to my seat and slouch so low in my chair I might as well be laying down under the table. I know I must look strange to my neighboring conference-goers, but console myself with the thought that my slouching is making it easier for the people behind me to see the PowerPoint presentation. The need arises to once again puke out my guts. And then it happens. In slow motion I push my way into the hall, and notice that the lights have suddenly become very bright and blinding. I begin making my way down the stairs, and suddenly, a voice is quietly nagging at me, calling out “mademoiselle! mademoiselle! blahblahblahblahselleblah.” I turn and stare at her, the bright lights receding slowly to reveal an ugly dark red carpet all around me. I am clinging to the stair railing, arm upraised, and I am thankfully sitting down – nowhere near a cold metal pole.
Two days later, I sought out treatment for pneumonia. February was a rough one for me, you guys. A lot of time has been spent in bed on the weekends, sipping feebly at hot lemonade and getting teary-eyed with the final season of Dance Academy and the first two seasons of Dawson’s Creek. The tears shed during Dawson’s Creek have mainly been due to how annoying Dawson is. His life interests! His lameness! His unintentionally-insulting laugh! I’ve never watched Dawson’s Creek before.
But finally I am back to full-strength, again rejoicing in the cold and sunny days of late winter in northern Maine. So here are a few photos from my February life in these gorgeous woods.
6:11am. My breakfast, like on most mornings, starts with yogurt. I am like the Olympians today, because I’m eating Chobani brand and therefore am ‘naturally powering.’ I’ve taken a particular liking to the coconut variety. I have a serious misgiving about all flavored Greek yogurt I can get my hands on, though – every variety seems to be stupidly high in sugar content. I don’t need that many grams of sugar to start my mornings, yogurt makers.
12:39pm. This machine, a forwarder, moves wood that has been cut into specific lengths by a processor from the woods to the roadside. Earlier in the morning, the forwarder broke down at the back of the harvest block, up a really steep hill, far far far far far from the road. The forwarder operator, who is scheduled for hip surgery soon, was needless to say in a bit of a predicament. I was as well, because just hiking up to visit the machine took away all of my limited cola-flavored gummy energy. Luckily within five minutes of my arrival, the machine is back up running.
2:02pm. Softwood from an OSR, or overstory removal, with my snowshoes and snotty bandana for scale. An OSR removes the main canopy of a stand when there is adequate and vigorous young growth in the understory. It’s all about the future for me.
2:11pm. A visual depiction of the OSR in progress. The right half of the picture has been treated, with the dying overstory removed to allow young stems to grow freely. Cedar and some pine in the overstory are left for diversity. The left half of the picture is not yet treated, with the dense understory saplings looking to be released, or allowed to grow freely.
3:41pm. Instead of traipsing back through the same stand, I decide to take my chances on a shortcut just outside the area I was working in. This is what I find, though, a bunch of thick+nasty young stuff. I decide to take this picture 20 minutes into my slog of a hike, about when my first tears of frustration start to form.
3:52pm. Emerging from the thicket of nastiness, I cough up a few twigs and seriously consider taking a nap on the spot. It is, after all, a balmy 15F outside. I notice that my hair looks red in the picture I have just taken and I am very pleased.
3:58pm. After years spent studying white pine, I finally have the chance to cut a few of my own. These pine are low-quality relics left behind from a previous harvest; the current harvest is now taking out the poorer-quality pine stems, and leaving the best behind for another 30-60 years.
4:32pm. A pile of gorgeous popple at a third job site. Poplar grows well in full sun conditions, so just to the left of this pile is a small clearcut I did in order to try to get more pretty popple growing here in the future. The only setback we may encounter is the moose. There are so many moose up here, and each one is constantly nibblingnibblingnibbling, so any hardwood cut that we do is subject to their chompers.
4:37pm. Big wood. This is a rare predicament, as most of our wood is teeny tiny, the biggest diameters usually being the size of the pieces on the top of the pile. This large wood was almost too big for the machines to handle. Pretty exciting stuff, ferreal.
4:52pm. We have a lot of breakdowns that occur on a regular basis, and this is a day of breakdowns. The machine pictured here is a broken-down delimber. A delimber takes limbs off of felled trees, or de-limbs. It then piles them to create the yards of wood seen in the previous two pictures.