I arrived in Williams Lake at a tiny airport. I was waiting for someone I had never seen before, and that made me nervous. I looked at everyone long enough to see if they were looking back, looking for me. There were few people in the airport. I walked to the glass door at the front where you could see the cars come in, driving in a big loop towards the front. It was too cold to wait outside. The cars came infrequently. I made my shovel visible on top of my things, so as to be easily identified, and waited.
After two hours, Kayla arrived.
We shook hands and I loaded my things into her truck. This person is my boss, and I will have to spend a lot of time with this person, so I tried to be as open and friendly as possible. I tried to ask her about herself, and reveal a little about myself. We drove up to the head offices so that Kayla could pick things up and I asked her with questions about quality and tree prices. It was snowing. Kayla got out and left me sitting in the truck for around forty-five minutes. The snow made me feel really bad for myself.
When Kayla got back in her truck, she apologized for taking so long and I said ‘no worries’ and we drove on. First, to buy some gloves at Surplus Herbies. Then, to camp, an hour and a half west of Williams Lake, on a big ranch overlooking the Frasier River, two kilometers east of Alexis Creek, BC. There are about a hundred of us there: foremen, runners, planters, checkers and cooks; drifters, college students, transient workers, rookies and grizzled veterans, mostly between the ages of 18 and 40. Below us, across the river, are five hundred cows whose mooing echoes through the valley at all hours.
It was almost dark when I arrived. I scrambled to set up my tent in a light snowfall and then spent a chilly night, fully clothed, in my sleeping bag.
I woke to half a foot of snow, which stuck around and prevented us from working until late in the day. When, eventually, we were able to bag up, the motions came back to me easily.
People are more concerned with quality here, which slows you down and prevents you from planting as many trees. The tree prices are higher, however, meaning you don’t have to plant as many to earn the same amount. I am used to the Alberta style, and have struggled thus far.
Now it is day-off, a Sunday, and everything is closed in Williams Lake save the laundromat. I had to walk three kilometers to find a net-cafe.
NOTE: In camp there is no Internet connection, so I will only be able to write on this every five days.