This year couldn't be more different. The woods are lush and green, and there is still snow in the mountains. Although the media is playing up a few large fires in the southwest, the truth is that the season is slow to start. Because we still need to stay busy, we look for something, anything, to do.
A squad leader jumps on the riding mower as often as he can. He listens to the news as he rides around, manicuring the area and adding as many bonus acres as possible. J. asks for time off to go backpacking, claiming that he has finally gotten an elusive permit for a wilderness area. M., tired of being short, decides to build a stool. She looks up plans for one on Pinterest, and busily starts cutting wood. Seeing her using all her personal protective equipment, I yell, "I see someone being safe in here!" and ambush her with a safety award, a 32 ounce hydroflask.
Some of the minions have escaped, taking freedom flights or drives to locations that are allegedly burning, or are about to. One sits in Alaska with scooper aircraft, until it starts to rain there too. J. is out with the hotshots on a stubborn fire in Arizona; in his first year with us, he may be already converted to their way of life and may need to be deprogrammed when he gets back. K. is with a crew enduring 120 degree heat; we can't decide whether it is a good deal or not.
It's bound to pick up sooner or later (probably later) but for now, the hills are alive with the sound of weedeaters and hammering. The rate of paperwork completion is at an all time high. It's pointless to speculate on the season: it depends on the summer rains and the lightning track. In the meantime, we are here, ready to go.
|The woods are green here.|