Sometimes I get a bit depressed when I consider what I've done with my life so far. There are many people who've achieved great success in life by the time they reached my age but so far I'm just plugging along. However, it may also be somewhat of a mixed blessing achieving greatness early in life because for the rest of your life you have to try and surpass the lofty heights already reached. I haven't reached lofty heights, but I do have the curse of knowing that it's unlikely that I will ever be able to write a finer story than one that I've already written.
I stumbled across a copy of it this evening while looking through some old mementos at my mom's place. It's called "The Snake" and I wrote it in grade two. I think you'll enjoy it.
by Eddie Smith
Dedicated to Graham, and Janna and Lisa.
Once upon a time there was a rattle snake. She was a smart snake. She could tell things apart. She could even tell two wasps apart. But she could never answer this question. Guess what it was? How to have a baby. She did not like that at all because everyone wanted to know how to have one, so they asked her. She did not want to be embarrassed, so she would say that she was busy and go on her way.
One day she was slithering along when she saw a male snake. He looked very wise. So she asked him how to have a baby. This is what he said.
"Please show me your house and let me live with you and I will tell you."
So she let him live with her. She was pleased to have him in her house.
One day she screamed. The boy wiggled as fast as he could into her underground room. And there were some shiny white eggs. He was proud to have some children. He counted one, two, three, four, five, six seven, seven shiny eggs. The male said that you have to mate to have babies.
One day the male was out hunting when he caught a mouse and swallowed it whole. Then he went home. When he got there he saw seven little baby snakes, four boys and three girls. They loved to be strong. But they always were aware of a hawk or an eagle that may be flying around. They grew up healthy and lived happily ever after.
There are some fine illustrations as well, but you'll just have to take my word on it.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Several years ago, partway through my fourth season of tree planting I did something that at the time seemed nothing more than a passing amusement but in retrospect turned out to be one of the most notable things that I've done in my life.
I began tree planting the way most people did, in complete ignorance. My cousin had gone the previous two years and came back boasting of the money to be made. Eager for new adventure and the promised cash I applied and was hired. Having done two summers of tar and gravel roofing in the heat of the Okanagan Valley I thought I knew what miserable work was, but that was when I was still young and naive. Tree planting presented days of absolute torment although liberally interspersed with times of fun and laughter.
In hindsight it was somewhat surprising that I had made it so far as fourth season. I made decent money but certain not enough that planting would be the obvious choice of summer employment. I persevered partly because somewhere in the midst of the off season the painful memories would fade away leaving only the memories of the fun times. By the time the next planting season began I was positively excited to get out there. (The excitement generally lasted until about the third tree)
The other reason I kept it up was because the notion of quitting never really seemed a viable option. (Which was strange because I had made quitting a bit of a lifestyle with things such as piano lessons, chemistry 12, a woodworking course and grade nine.) I had shared in the laughter as we made jokes about the other rookies who had quit because of a "sore back" which is a euphemism for "not tough enough". I had no good reason not to quit and quitting due to not liking it was the same as admitting that I was a sissy. So there I was, in the truck driving home in the middle of my fourth season, more experienced than all but my foreman.
I realized then that it just wasn't worth it for me. I realized through experience that there was a good chance that I would forget and wind up planting again so I decided to put into writing my motivation to not plant again. I did it in the form of a letter to myself listing exactly why I hated planting. Surprisingly this little action, that was as much a way to pass the time while getting a laugh as it was a serious letter became something of a legend. (A very humble legend of course) I have been shocked though by the number of people who mention this letter that I wrote years ago. The surprising thing for me is that the majority of the people who bring it up never even read the letter themselves.
I am on the cusp of starting my eighth season planting so obviously the note failed. I'm looking forward to the season so maybe I should give it a close read. Here it is, complete and unabridged:
Dear Future Ed,
When you read this you will have forgotten about a few things concerning planting. Please read the following before considering season five. Planting sucks. It REALLY, REALLY, SUCKS.
There are lots of bugs. Mosquitos, no see-ums, black flies, and the annoying flies that circle your head forever. The plants are no better. Devil's club, stinging nettle, branches that trip you or stab you in the eye, mouth, nose or crotch. There are errant shovels into the knee or shin. The job is really boring and you always need to plant more trees. There are camps to set up and take down and of course reefers to unload. There are gong show days because of course no one ever knows what is going on.
Of course don't forget rain days. They are much colder and more miserable than you remember. There are trucks that get stuck or have flat tires. Some days are unbearably hot and others that are unbearably cold. Morning come too early and are far too cold. The weeks are long as are the days because there will be blocks that need to be closed off even if it means staying several hours late. The work is out of town so you will miss the best part about living in Kelowna, the summer. Baggin up in general sucks. Wet bags in the morning suck. Wet boot suck. Gettting out of the trucks in the morning sucks. Rocks, stick mat, grass mat, roots and creamy red rot that you can't plant suck.
Planting makes the whole body hurt but nobody gives any sympathy. Sometimes you go really hard but mistakes happen and replanting really, really, really sucks. You are always stuck in camp and days off are far too short. I've mentioned it already but rain days really suck. There are snow days, hail days, and sleet days. There are steep hills to plant and long walk ins. There are wasp nests as well. This list is not conclusive because there is too much to list. Don't be persuaded by promises of big money because the money isn't worth it.
Dangerous people to watch out out for are Lee Keller, Justus Smith, perhaps Clint (All whom are previous foreman who might have tried to get me to plant again) but most of all, ignore what Ed Smith tries to convince you. You don't remember. I am here and the job sucks. Please don't plant next year.