Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Am So Fucking Exhausted - a preemptive strike at my summer.

It's only mid April, and the field season is already destroying me. It's too early to be this sunburned, this blackberry-scratched, this near-attacked-by-a-skunk, and this tired. But I guess my job sorta rocks. Call me a masochist, but I wear my scars with the pride of someone who knows that Scott's coworkers are jealous when they hear what I do for a living, even though I make only a fraction of what they do. People go into my field for the love, not the money.

I've been conducting wetland delineations on a landfill for the last week. Landfills are always hell of sketchy, especially pre-1987 (Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) landfills. This one has a DEQ Solid Waste Permit dating from the 1970s, which pretty much means thay have license to dump leachate directly into a tributary to the South Yamhill River. It's already kinda icky getting your hands muddy, but when you know there's every sort of biological and chemical contaminant in the water and soil, it renders the works downright frightening. Heavy metal is supposed to be an ironic musical genre, not something I have to worry about accidentally ingesting while having a cigarette.

So today I was hacking through blackberry thickets to flag the ordinary high water level on the aforementioned trib to the South Yamhill River and I hear this quiet hissing noise. My mind scans through the various possibilities: Rattlesnake? Naw, too far west and too early for those. Small rodent? Maybe a little too loud, and usually rodents aren't that brazen. I actually thought for a moment it might be some Madagascan hissing cockroaches - I was at the landfill, after all. I decide to ignore the hisses and keep working. They get louder, and are accompanied by some rustling in the reed canarygrass thatch that is ubiquitous in wetland areas in the Pacific Northwest. I decide to try to flush the little fucker out, so I huck a stick in the direction of the noise. More hissing. I yell at the thing, and up pops this little black and white head. It took a few milliseconds for me to process "oh how cute what is that thing a weasel or a mink or something oh holy shit a fucking skunk!" and I fucking ran like a bat out of hell, grabbing my shovel along the way for good measure. I stopped running when I was about 50 feet away (I figure a skunk wasn't gonna chase an animal 20 times its body weight to spray), and just stopped and laughed for a minute. That's the closest brush with wildlife that could potentially ruin my day that I've ever had, and it was invigorating, even if it was just a cute lil' skunk.

My summer will not likely be filled with such friendly wildlife. I'll be working on a pipeline project that spans 4 counties - big ones, too. From Coos County at the coast to Klamath-git-off-mah-propertah-County (cue sound of shotgun cocking) at the California border in central Oregon, I'll be trudging my way through the back country, surveying for wetlands, wildlife habitat and potential rare plant populations. We're talking no roads. We're talking 100 degrees. Lyme disease. Poison oak. Blackberry thorns. Rattlesnakes. Slopes of greater than 50%. We're only expected to cover 1.5 miles a day, if we're really kicking ass. No Nintendo, Tivo, or Scott, no front porch cocktails and garden, no 5 minute walks to sushi. A corridor 150 miles long and 400 feet wide will be walked and surveyed, hacking through brush along the way, and I'll be in dispose from May until the week before my wedding.

On the plus side, I won't have to diet or tan before the wedding, but on the down side, my dress will not look cute on a girl with bloody gashes all over her arms and bruises all over her legs.

7 comments:

Hethz said...

I was mistaken about the length of the proposed pipeline. It's actually 230 miles. Whee!

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Hethz said...

fucking DIE.

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angeloine said...

Heather, the adventurer!
And what a summer! I feel tired myself, just to think about it!
fortunately, your wedding dress seems to be long enough to hide the bruises on your legs, but I guess there isn't much to do about your harms... or maybe reconsider wearing long sleeves?
anyway, we all know you're going to be a gorgeous bride, bruises or not!
but you may want to try to avoid a new encounter with a skunk just before your wedding!
oh, well, I guess you could just tell everybody it's a very expensive French perfume...
Skunk, de Dior/ Chanel/ Yves Saint Laurent ...

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