Friday, July 18, 2008

A VERY Hard Day's Work

Monday we spent six hours clearing a trail next to an irrigation ditch on the wildlife area. Last year a forest fire in the area destroyed a flume on the ditch. In addition, a landslide at another point completely knocked out the ditch. The wildlife area has not used their water rights from Tygh Creek for nearly five years. If they don't use it this summer, they will lose those rights. Rebuilding the flume, repairing the ditch and clearing the trail along the ditch is a big job. In addition to three of the area's employees and John and me—their trusty volunteers—two employees from elsewhere in the fish and wildlife region were recruited to do the work.

We met the two people coming from The Dalles at 8 a.m. Monday in the parking lot of the store in Tygh Valley. When we arrived at the work site, everyone helped carry lumber and tools to the flume location. The young employees each carried one or two of the 2" X 8" X 12' pressure-treated boards. I struggled about half way with one of the boards, then gave up and let someone else take it. I did carry in some 2" X 6" X 8' pine boards. Then John and I picked up the loppers and water and started clearing the trail.

Four of the other workers are in their 20s. One is in his late 40s. We are 65. At lunch one of the young men repairing the washout commented, "I'm going to be sore tomorrow." At the end of the day the other young fellow working on that job said his hands were tired and sore.

Let me tell you, we were stiff, sore and exhausted. We did pretty well in the morning. A lot of our work was stoop labor—bending down to cut off plants at ground-level so it is easier to walk along the ditch. By lunch our backs were beginning to protest. By 3 p.m., when we quit work, they were sore and really protesting every bend. But did we say anything? Absolutely not! Everyone else is younger and full-time paid employees who have to be there. They can complain. We are volunteers and really old, compared to them. If they thought our job was a problem for us, we would be sent home in a heartbeat. So we didn't say a word.

We run 3 miles, three times a week. We weight train three times a week. We do lots of physical work. But we're not used to working all day. We came back to the RV, showered, had a drink, then I staggered up to fix dinner. We were tired and didn't want to do another thing. Thank heavens we are not working for a living any more.

You couldn't pay me to do this work. There are easier ways to earn money, if that is our goal. But we are volunteering to accomplish something, to help out. So we do things we'd never do if we were working for a paycheck. The reward of helping out makes it worth our while. No amount of money would.

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