May 1 2008
The day after tomorrow I'll be loading my things into a crewcab truck and driving to Merritt, B.C. to go treeplanting for the month of May. Except for a few short visits of a few days, I haven't been treeplanting since 2003, but before that it was my summer job, the perfect counterpoint to the life of a full-time student. Every spring was the same, finishing up exams and essays in April, packing my things into a truck, and driving into the mountains for a summer of living in a tent and working the land. Sounds romantic doesn't it? Well, it definitely has its moments, but they are mingled amongst the aches and pains and generally grueling physical work. Hmm, my duality is revealed. Last time I treeplanted a full season in 2003 I remember feeling like I had to escape the job or I would be ground down completely by it. I planted for ten years, starting when I was 15, and I loved the job unconditionally for most of my tenure. It was just in the last year or two that I started feeling strongly like I had to get out of it.
But over the past four and half years since my early retirement from the planting scene, I've come to romanticize it more and more, remembering the freedom of leaving the city swarm behind and experiencing the wilderness as a daily presence, not just a weekend poultice. Also, the hurt subsides once the body has acclimatized, and as a lifestyle it has a lot to recommend it, good food, good pay, good people, good karma, good times, and best of all, no stress. In camp, you're responsibilities are clear day by day, working hard and getting along with your co-workers, but there isn't room for a mess of distractions under those conditions. I've been self-employed since 2004 and I don't think I've rested my mind for more than a day or two since taking that leap into the abyss, boarding that raft off the island, or whatever metaphor you prefer.
This year my brother graduated to a full-blown supervisor and got his own contract, and he's been filling his crew list with some pretty special, creative people. I couldn't resist, nor could I afford to. Performing rap and selling CDs and books has been my sole source of income for over four years now, but it's a boom and bust existence, and times are lean, especially in the winter, and in this city. At the end of May I'm heading back over to England for another tour, and I need a cash infusion to get me there. So my mission is clear for the coming month, plant hard, return my mindstate to a liberated existence as opposed to a harrowed one, and emerge ready to bring that energy to the stage. Oh yes, and don't forget to bring back some good stories to tell.