The day I nearly got scalped by a tree

I think I’m making progress in what appears to be an eternal search for my perfect job(s).
It’s not helping build guest houses.

It’s not anything to do with goats – for now – I’ve not had much contact with the little buggers.

It’s certainly not living in a German village. I would go mad – they don’t even have a shop where my aunt lives. Although the scenery is great.  

One of my perfect jobs is definitely connected to trees. I’ve noticed this before. I once did a day volunteering with the Leeds Coppice works and had a great time! I came back home and was buzzing and I was still in a great mood days afterwards. I loved talking about it with everybody I met. I caught myself thinking: ‘Ey up, maybe I should become a Coppice worker!’ and even looked at training and job prospects only to recoil in horror at the yearly salary. But I kept thinking about it for a long time.

Then I went and joined another group doing some coppicing in Hawksworth Woods. And although I had fun, I didn’t have as much fun as I had with the Coppice workers, I didn’t feel the buzz and I certainly wasn’t totally enthusiastic every time I spoke about it. I thought the curse of repetition had already started and maybe I only had such a great time the first time, because it was new and therefore exciting.  

Until today. My aunt and uncle are always busy on their farm and their garden is quite neglected. They’ve got a big garden with lots of trees, lots of pesky brambles, even a little brook and a bridge that has certainly seen better days! So my aunt asked this morning if I wanted to help her in the garden. We chopped off smaller trees to let some more sunshine in the garden, we chop off branches of bigger trees, I attacked the brambles, the brambles attacked me, my hair got stuck on a branch – several times! It was infuriating and funny at the same time. I nearly fell into the brook a few times because it had been raining a lot and was really muddy. It then started rainingagain but  there was no stopping us. We were on a roll! When we finally went in for dinner – or lunch as the queen would say – I had grown about 2cm from the mud under my shoes, I nearly ended up scarred where a branch had got me in the face with a monstrously painful slap, my hair was inexplicable as it got continuously speared on the same stupid branch and then got wet (read frizz ball) but I had a huge grin on my face.

There could have been various reasons for these different reactions to what was more or less the same exercise. My first coppicing experience was on a glorious day, early autumn, beautiful sunshine, blue sky. The coppice workers were great fun, good at explaining, had interesting stories and it certainly helped that they were easy on the eye. My second experience was on a bitter cold and rainy day, the group was good fun but not as much fun and the ranger knew what he was doing but there wasn’t much teaching going on, and I sometimes felt a bit useless. And then today I had a great time again. The day started with sunshine and blue sky but then turned grey and grizzly. I had no eye candy, but enjoyed any minute. There was no teaching going on, just my aunt saying:”Chop that one off and throw it over there.” but I didn’t feel I needed any instructions.

I think the main difference in these experiences was my relationship to the rest of the team. I am a team player and if the team works well together, I’m having a great time. If there is not much team work going on, I try and get the team to work better as one. But when I don’t really know anything about the work, I can’t get the team to work more closely with each other, and this results in me being less enthusiastic about my task. 

Today’s experience has taught me how important it is to gel with the team, to have a good laugh together and some good old fashioned banter. It has taught me that I like working outdoors even if the weather isn’t great. It has taught me that it’s important to have fun when working. It has taught me that I like being physical and that I don’t mind carrying heavy branches around. And it has also taught me that I need to invest in a hat or risk being scalped by a branch sooner or later.  

Now, the biggest question of all though. Where do I go from here??? 


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