Now that I have the perspective of a few days with all the luxuries of civilization like refrigeration and roofs over one’s head (I totally get why people live in houses), I think it’s time to take a look back at the summer. There were lows, there were highs, and there were a whole lot of epiphanies.
Things I learned this summer include, but are not limited to:
- check your propane levels occasionally whilst in a backcountry spike camp,
- which direction to start one’s handsaw,
- sort of how to teach what I’m doing whilst doing that thing for the first time,
- how to make cowboy coffee using a bandana,
- how to chisel wood (albeit mediocrely),
- eating mostly vegetarian is a great way to save money,
- the importance of level surfaces to my mental health,
- what a bryozoan colony is,
- that writing letters to every single one of your fellow crew leaders can provide the clarity that comes from writing down your experiences in a journal but it’s better because you can get responses,
- that complete strangers won’t be fazed if you knock on their door asking for matches and may even give you cookies,
- there won’t be any bluegrass at a music festival called Jig In The Valley,
- why some summits are bald and others aren’t,
- to always double check that the door to the freezer containing the Ben & Jerry’s is shut,
- that crew members often come up with better solutions than the crew leader can,
- what a multiple trunked tree may indicate about the history of a forested landscape, and
- that being on an all-female crew does not automatically mean there is going to be lots of tears and feelings all the time, but instead actually meant doing harder projects with a better work ethic, intelligent and productive discussions during our education periods each day, a lot of Fleetwood Mac, and an endless amount of laughing and being silly.
We started our summer tucked high into the forest on the side of Hunger Mountain in the center of Vermont, and ended on the flats of the river delta of the Missisquoi, in the northwest. I can’t think of a more fitting metaphor for our summer than rain drops in a watershed: disparate drops falling on a mountain, trickling together, coming down off the mountain, and then steadily flowing as a river. But rivers eventually end, and so did our time as Conservation 8 – the Female Leadership Development Crew/Fancy Ladies Doin’ Conservation.
Best of luck in all your future endeavors, ladies, and thank you for your hard work,