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Don’t lose it


By: Alaine Dickman

At last, water is in the forecast, but from below.

Monday, April 17th both Water Trail crews head north to hop on the Rum River near Princeton, MN. This is where for us new comers, chainsaw, boat and river meet; for a wee, short week of training.

Leading up to this field training, our crews spent four days more specifically focused on the rules of the water world of Minnesota, operating the jon boats and getting a feel for paddling with our fellow crew members, with the last day spent on the water. Previous weeks we have been on dry land felling cedars and buck thorn, picking garlic mustard, tending rain gardens in Minneapolis, scouting for goose nests. And for nearly two weeks, dumping and raking truckful after truckful (after truckful) of mulch in the city of Oakdale. Not one of us is shy of eagerness, I believe it’s safe to say.

My imagination occasionally floods realistic expectations. Earlier today I was daydreaming, attempting to foresee the week ahead. And as the daydreams concluded they mimicked the dreams I wake from during sleep; either ending in my favor – laughing myself back to consciousness, or with my head being bitten off by an insect-like alien posing as a bug exterminator. (I don’t actually dream about Men In Black, I just happened to have a rough week with an actual exterminator in St. Paul and it is continuing to haunt my train of thought).

What I really am anticipating is my own competence and focus, my mental and physical endurance. It is a large part in my opinion, of this job. It’s about respect for those offering time to teach and share their experience and expertise, respect for those learning along side you. It’s never taking an education opportunity for granted and to dedicate every effort you can offer to the end goal. It’s a circulation of discipline, internal checks and balances. I am here, we are here, to maintain and improve our environment but professionalism is not limited to a desk, a sales floor or dining room.

This is a new area of work for me. And I fear it may be easy to loosen my grip on focus. But training is a great time to swing the habit of discipline back into practice. Of course I’ll be critical on my creative maneuvering of the saw, the boat and my helpfulness to others. I’ll make a few mistakes and get caught up in loops juggling new techniques in less stable environments. Though always reflective, I am confident I will report steady improvements day to day. And as each day wraps up and each week comes to an end I intend to grow further and further away from losing any focus, my head, or worse…

Losing a saw.