When crazy people like treeplanters meet nature in such a raw environment, you can expect some interesting things to happen. Following are a collection that I have managed to remember over the years.
– One guy was planting away in a mountainous area and fell through the top surface into a deep ravine. Fortunately he landed right on top of a short log which had previously fallen into the ravine but created a cross bridge. Below that was an open, dark and neverending ravine where the planter’s howls may have easily escaped any rescuer. Sometimes I truly feel the presence of God out here in nature.
– Once we were in an area where there were a lot of bee’s nests buried in the ground. One girl was getting bit in the face six times a day. I was planting next to a friend of mine and thought to God that we should be spared any bee bites, as I believe that all animals listen to God. A few hours later I heard my friend scream and he later explained to me that he was screefing away the top layer when he revealed a nest of angry bees. His first reaction was to open wide his mouth and exclaim fear as the swarm of bees charged towards his face. He ran away and none of them bit him.
A few days later I was planting in a slightly different area and came upon a microsite surrounded by slash. Above the plantable spot slanted a dead tree and I was trying to bounce it out of the way. I was nudging and pushing wildly at this dead slanted tree until I noticed some spots around me. I slowed down my movement, still pumped and oblivious on adrenalin pumping through my system, and it slowly dawned on me that the little spots were bees, as I heard an increasing number hum around me. As I began to clue in that a hornet’s nest was dangling on the dead log in front of my face and I was surrounded by many angry bees, the spots began to circle around me and form a tornado shaped attack formation around my standing body. Once this clicked in my brain I started running as fast as I could out of there. About five second later as I was sprinting away as fast as I could, I got a nip into each of my calves from two separate hornets, which seemed to serve as a warning to me by the queen to pay more attention.
Comment below to add your own treeplanting stories!!
Since bugs can be so mentally exasperating, I occasionally find myself running into a treeplanter, off quietly on their own, torturing bugs as some sort of rehabilitation process. One was burning them with his lighter and watching them fry away in a peatry dish. Another would tie a string through the butt of a horsefly and attach a small paper airplane on the other end. The horsefly would drag the plane around the premises. I often liked to tear off one wing from a mosquito and drop it to the ground below, satisfied in the thought that it would lay struggling there until some other bug would crawl along and eat it. Or while taking a crap in the morning and trying to fight off all the mosquitoes, I would maim them and drop them into the pit below, plopping contentedly on their heads, satisfied with their dismal demise.
There was a tale of one female planter who had a deliciously prepared lunch tightly sealed in a strong Tupperware container. But that didn’t last till noon since a raven (they can be quite intelligent) lifted the whole container high in the sky, let if fall and then swooped down to consume the contents once the box exploded open.
Once I was planting when I overheard, with a faint, panting voice: “b-b-b-b-bear!” I looked to see one of my colleagues slodge dart his way forward with his clunky, heavy boots, while a young bear toyfully ran about two meters behind him. Raising its front paws once in a while, like a little pup. Then it ripped apart all our bags and ate all our lunches. Unfortunately, the foreman had to grab the rifle and shoot it through the chest, because apparently bears who have grown used to humans are the most dangerous.
The mess tents usually come equipped with a type of stove with pipe into which you can throw the abundance of wood in the surroundings to warm the place up after another long, rainy, miserably wet day. One planter had a great idea of using a spare one of these to build around it a sauna using plastic tarp and wood. We would alternate between getting overly hot in the sauna (pouring water on the stove for added steam) and running into the freezing cold river right nearby. Or at one point to roll around in the wet mud and run through the camp screaming naked.
Once in Ontario a crew were going to the block while in their van, when the van started slowing down to look at a rather strange sight. The crew peered out the window, eyes bewildered, while they watched a bear propped up on its hind legs, its front paws flattened against a road sign while it was bobbing against it. The bear slowly turned its head to noticed the van full of wide eyed, bewildered planters, and apparently showed the most human-like expression as if it had been caught with its hands in the cookie jar, before jogging off into the wilderness.