Thursday, June 19, 2008

UPDATE: Drayton Valley, Alberta

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At the BCMI inn, where I am staying, there are no cars in the parking lot. There are large white trucks with company decals on the sides, and big tires; splatter coatings of grey clay around their base grow thinner up their sides, acquired on the many dirt and gravel roads that divide the green foothills between Drayton Valley and Edson. Roads that lead to wells, massive thrusting derricks churning and belching, or clear cut forrests; running adjacent to seismic lines and ten meter wide stretches of dead straight green grass that seem to go on forever, a scar marking the underground pipelines; roads that climb up hills that when crested reveal the far off jagged white shapes of the Rocky Mountains on one side, and a muddy flat horizon on the other.

There are no women at the BCMI save for the hostess and the waitresses at the Bar-Restaurant near the reception. It is full of men, alone and in small groups, eating high cholesterol breakfasts off of the Canadian Classics menu. Heavy set men wearing denim and wool, and high boots. Everything recognizable from the racks of Mark's Work Warehouse. They look threateningly unremarkable.

One shift here and the numbers are huge. We only earn nine cents a tree, so you have to plant more of them. But the land is, as Cam would say, 'dead-easy.' We are camped along a river in a provincial campsite, somewhere between Edson and Drayton Valley, one hour from cement in any direction. I can hear the trickle of the creek through my mosquito net at night, which becomes almost indistinguishable from the loud puttering of the generator beside the cook shack.

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