Friday, May 17, 2013

gainful employment – and it’s in the woods

Here’s something I’ve never seen before, though it must have been all around me on any number of occasions:


It stands to reason that if deciduous trees produce buds for next year’s leaves and flowers, coniferous trees must as well. This is a cluster of this year’s new needles, so fresh that the bud coating (no doubt there are more technically correct terms for all this) hasn’t even fallen off yet. Awesome!

Other back yard beauties include some buttercups...



The lawn is littered with fuzzy-leaved asters. Here’s hoping the landlord is negligent in his lawn-mowing duties. He can’t possibly be as negligent as we are – I believe we mowed our lawn in Vermont last year 2.5 times.

In other news, I have a summer job at an aerial forest park. So far, we’ve only been open on weekends, but as soon as school lets out, we’ll be open seven days a week. So what’s an aerial park, you ask?


Sort of like a ropes course, without the ropes. A lot of cables and bridges or other obstacles, strung between trees.


There are five courses, each of which starts from a central platform. Some are easier than others – lower to the ground, and not quite as technical – while others demand that you climb a ladder before you can even get started.

IMG_1808 so.

Kevin and I first heard about this park because it turns out our next door neighbors down here own the land the park is on. So we headed over there a few weeks ago while it was still being built...


I immediately thought, “I gotta get me some of this.”

And lo, I am now a “course monitor”. I am charged with fitting customers into full-body harnesses, showing them how to use their carabiners (think, “safety clips” – you’re always clipped into something in case you get into an argument with gravity), and wandering around on paths under the courses, providing moral support. And if necessary, actual rescue.

I’m easily twice the age of most of my coworkers.


Don’t ask what that is in my hair. It involves a mutilated balloon animal. It’s a fun crew to work with, I’ll leave it at that for now. And, I DO have boobs. I swear. I prefer running bras, what can I say.

So yeah, rescuing people. I’ve gotten some training in how to safely lower folks off of platforms both low and high (low = you can get a ladder to them and high = you cannot), as well as off the middle of an element (an element is anything strung between two trees, typically a bridge of some sort.)


Here are two of my coworkers, preparing to practicing a bridge rescue. After I took this shot with my cell phone, I worked my way out to where they are and practiced rescuing and being rescued myself. I was nervous, but I got over it.


Here’s a view from where I was stranded for several minutes while my neighbor’s son, who helped build the place, came to my rescue (a piece of equipment needed to be installed before I could proceed – I was the first person, aside from the guys who built it, who ran this particular course and they’d just overlooked something.)


I believe this is the element I was waiting to do.


I love this stuff. I’m not especially afraid of heights, but I do get an adrenaline rush the first few times I encounter a particular element. And, I still haven’t done all five courses yet: I’ve been waiting for the construction of the fourth to be completed before trying both it, and the hardest one. That last one gives me the willies. It’s going to take more upper body strength than I have, but I’ve looked at it from the ground for a while and I have A Plan to Deal with That.

What I’m loving about all this? The in-the-trenches experience of fear, and overcoming fear through action. Really, there’s no point in standing around on a platform going “oh.shit.” You just have to move, and keep moving. Somewhere there’s a life lesson in this.

Me being me, I’m always on the lookout for our wee little woodland friends. The wildflower diversity is not great on this site.


Canada mayflowers abound. I’m going to work on a series of macros that feature blurry park elements/platforms in the distance. The one above was my first try. What do you think?


A fair number of them are flowering, bonus.


There are some starflowers.

And, last but not least, I’ve seen a few of what I believe might be sessile-leaved bellwort.



Alas, I’ve noticed some poison ivy.


Speaking of which, I have NEVER seen so much poison ivy, generally speaking, as I have down here in Connecticut. Damn!

In other news, Kevin-my-Kevin (which is Kevin’s new nickname now that my new boss turns out to be named Kevin as well) is returning home this evening from a bizness trip to Spain and Italy. Boy, am I looking forward to seeing him!