Well, a week of pre-season prep is flying by at warp speed, leaving us all a bit shell shocked, wind burnt and bogglingly exhausted, dehydrated and giddy. It’s 4;30 a.m and I’m wide awake which bodes well for the next 2 months of 4 am start times (followed by another 2 months of early rising in the Okanagan). The familiar sound of the generator running soothes me through the night- the fridges on the trailer and the kitchen bus will be getting cold in anticipation of the arrival of our giant Sysco order this afternoon.

We’re living out of our vehicles and a job site trailer parked on a wicked angle at the shop, where we at least have hydro this year. After last season’s -13 with wind chill temps over the first week, this 22 degree weather makes me feel spoiled. Somebody’s always brewing coffee on a camp stove and we are back to pissing outside incessantly and driving to the Husky to shit and shower. You can hear them everywhere we go. “The treeplanters are back,” they say, as we trudge in to buy groceries and beer and gas. Soon we’ll be followed by close to a hundred planters.

Setting up a bush kitchen from scratch is no easy feat. The week has been pretty full with getting the bus ready after she sat in storage outdoors all winter. We’ve been checking propane and water and fixing cupboards and washing every dish after the mice made their home in the cupboards with leftover toilet paper. The tasks are never ending, although the list at the moment is quite manageable. Encouraging, after the full-on, heads down charge that was necessary to tackle the immensity of the whole project.

Equipping the pantry and meal planning for the first week took two full days of obsessive list making, poring over copies of the Sysco catalog. Everything from spices and baking supplies to toilet paper and ground beef has to be considered. The order, a two page affair, took a solid thirty minutes to phone in to our rep, who is excellent at helping us with the most cost effective products for our needs. Having done this last year makes it immensely easier for me to handle now, knowing quantities that will be needed and preferable products and what a shift will typically look like. We are meeting industry standard this year with 4&1 shifts although the first will be a 5&1, followed by the inaugural HoJo/Companion night off. Look out, Hearst!

Walking back from La Companion a few nights ago, I caught a glimpse of flickering green in the sky, followed by the briefest moment of pink. It was so brief I could have imagined it but when I got back to the shop everyone was outside watching the sky and the aurora borealis that graced us this far south, for, as north as Hearst may seem, Canada still stretches on seemingly indefinitely to the north. I have finally tricked somebody into coming up here with me and after the twelve hour drive and the warnings of snow and bugs and shittiness, the spectre almost makes it worthwhile.

‘I thought you must have been exxagerating at least a little bit when you talked about treeplant,’ he says. ‘But now that I’m here and I hear everybody’s stories, I realize you weren’t. Even a little bit. Actually, you might have underplayed it.’

Looking forward to bringing you another season of unbelievable stories. Bex out.

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