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The new ‘normal’


When life gives you snow, you make a snowman and have fun with it.

When life gives you snow, you make a snowman and have fun with it.

By: Angela Mohar


How did this happen to a tree?

How did this happen to a tree?

Four days out of the week my alarm sounds promptly at 4:30 a.m. to signal the start of my day. For the first few weeks I certainly struggled to become accustomed to this early hour, but now it’s nice to see the world before it’s fully awake. After packing a filling lunch, I head away from the sunrise, towards the corn fields and to the shop.

Upon arriving at the shop, I head into the locker room to lace up my boots before joining the other early arrivals in the break room before the morning meeting. As 6:30 a.m. draws near, the room begins to fill up with corps members, full-time staff and seasonal employees. Right on schedule, our fearless leader, Jeff, begins the meeting with the goals for the rest of the week and what to watch out for when working in the areas we are assigned. We all look to the white board to find our assignments for the day and then gather our gear to begin another crazy day in the Three Rivers Park District.  


After buckthorn removal

After buckthorn removal


Before buckthorn removal

Before buckthorn removal

After loading up the trucks with our necessary equipment for the day, we head out and stop for gas (and also for arguably the best breakfast sandwiches any of us have ever had) at the local mom and pop station on our way out to the park. Once we arrive at the site for the day, we try to get limbered up before beginning our work with a stretch circle. I’ve found over the past few months that a good stretch circle question can really set the tone for the day and make it memorable and fun in its own way. If it’s true that laughing more makes you live longer, then we’re all going to live a very long time; we tend to be a pretty goofy and weird group that gets along marvelously.


Working hard to eradicate buckthorn.

Working hard to eradicate buckthorn.

Despite what some may say, even if we’ve been doing the same tasks for an entire week (or even two), no day is really the same as another. Some days are hot, others downright cold, and some we have other natural obstacles to make the day interesting (such as sticky April snow to build and accessorize a snowman during break). We also never know what we might find; a lost Frisbee, a crazy tree that one could crawl inside, a curious turkey, or an unanticipated invading plant species.

By the end of a busy day of making our world a better place, pretty much the only one awake is the driver. Once the truck is unloaded and our gear is put away, it’s time to unlace the boots and head home for the evening. Even after a busy and exhausting day when I’m dragging my heels, I still can’t help but wonder what the next morning will bring.