The last day of my first season tree planting was a helicopter block. To be more accurate there were a few cut blocks being planted that day and I was selected, along with two other guys, to plant three small, connected blocks. My foreman informed us that we had to "pound" that day because it was essential that we were finished by the time the helicopter returned to pick us up.
Well we pounded that day. I remember being glad coming back to the tree cache for my last bag up with plenty of time to spare before the helicopter was due to arrive. However, when I got back to the cache I discovered Lee and Byron, the guys planting with me, lounging around with all the trees gone. They had finished off the last of the trees while I was gone.
There is no surer recipe for good memories than being stuck out on the block with nothing to do. Lee and I napped a bit while making jokes about Byron who for no apparent reason began digging a hole. We asked him what he was doing and he replied, "making a trap." We made jokes about how the trap would cause the checker to break an ankle and spitefully fail the block. Seeing the mickey mouse quality of the trap we made jokes about the futility of the enterprise. We laughed as he carefully covered the hole, about 18" deep I suppose, with branches, leaves and dirt.
Tired from his exertions Byron also napped while waiting for the helicopter. We had a long wait though. Eventually we woke up and started milling about. Lee fell in Byron's trap. Byron and I laughed at him, though Byron laughed longer after all the ribbing he endured.
We then, betraying our boredom, began to replant our trees. Lee let us rookies into a glorious secret.
"It doesn't matter if you swear in the woods!"
"Who the @$%# planted this #!@^ tree at the @#%* bottom of the @$% mound!???"
"This @#%^ tree is #$^#$!"
"You're an @!##%"
"Your trees are !@##@ and your @#%#@ face is @#%# ass @#$@# and ##%#$@ you @$#$ big #@$#%$#.
It was good fun and I learned that swearing well either requires practice or is a talent that I lack. We headed back to the cache and I fell into Byron's trap. Byron laughed best.
Finally, after several hours we heard the chopper and got ready to hook up the sling of garbage boxes to the helicopter. We then walked to the other block, fording a creek via beaver dam and stopping to plant my last tree of the season, (upside down) where we would be flown out, along with the rest of the camp, back to the trucks. (Only to discover that, of course, the season wasn't done and we had several hundred more trees to plant.)
While napping back on the block I remember waking, thinking that I heard the helicopter coming. I mentioned it to Lee but realized it was just my imagination. Lee later remarked enviously that I was asleep and snoring again in less than a minute. He was a light sleeper and always had trouble falling asleep.
It is nice to be able to sleep anywhere and anytime. Several times I've fallen asleep on a airplane while still taxiing, waking up a while later to people enjoying snacks and drinks that have already been brought around. Hard beds, springy beds, no beds, it doesn't matter so much to me.
It's also a curse though. I fall asleep when I don't want to. I remember desperately trying to stay awake at a funeral, but failing. Or my cousin Arend telling of the time in church the pastor finished praying and everyone's head lifted, except mine. They spirit was willing but they flesh is weak.
I always feel bad for Peter, James and John when Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, comes back to them and disappointedly asks them if they couldn't keep watch for one hour. I know that I would have done no better.
(I know there's a really awkward segue in this blog but that's the way it's gotta be and I don't feel like explaining the reasons behind it.)