AmeriCorps 2020: July 10

This post continues the story of my AmeriCorps term in Boulder, Colorado during the Summer and Fall of 2020. Previous entries are located here.

A field with mountains in the background.
Looking out on the mountains from my first worksite on July 10, 2020.

Following our introduction to field training the day before, my AmeriCorps crew and I returned to the South Mesa Trailhead on July 10. This would prove to be a challenging day, but my one of my best with American Conservation Experience (ACE).

After our hike in – which I again found grueling – Victoria sent me back to the drain I’d started working on yesterday afternoon. This drain had proven more difficult than anticipated: partly due to an abundance of large rocks, and partly because of my inexperience.

Thanks to my misunderstanding of the previous day’s directions, I’d also placed the low point of the drain on the wrong side. This meant I essentially had to ‘flip’ my drain.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to work on my own that day.

Clay soon joined me with a “double jack,” which was basically a sledgehammer. Swinging the double jack in much the same way as a pick-mattock, we hammered the drain’s many rocks until they were either pulverized or flattened.

With the rocks out of the way, Clay and I then began to carve out the drain with our picks. We deepened, widened, and reshaped the drain, until it was once again capable of shedding water and slowing the trail’s erosion.

While Clay and I were working, Victoria had gone ahead to survey the rest of the trail. She rejoined us after an hour or two, and the three of us took our morning break together in the shade.

A shrubby field with mountains in the background.
A shot from our morning break spot on July 10, 2020.

As we sat, sipping water and flinging our masks on whenever hikers walked by, Clay asked, “Have you ever had a time when you thought that this could be it, like this is how you’d like to spend the rest of your life?”

I immediately thought of 3 Seasons’ Camp on Lake Kipawa, Quebec. I pictured sitting on the screened-in porch of our cabin, feeling the cool air, and listening to the waves of Lake Kipawa gently licking our dock.

In that moment – as I wilted in the Colorado heat – I decided that that was how I wanted to end up: with a cabin on a lake somewhere up north. I didn’t know how I was going to realize that dream, but now I had a goal to work for.

The view from my cabin’s dock at 3 Seasons’ Camp.

I soon had to end my musings and return to work. With our break over, we finished our drain, and then Victoria led Clay and I to another location that needed work.

This spot consisted of a drain that had been filled with sediment. It was a relatively small drain, and hence it didn’t require much work. All we had to do was widen and deepen it, and remove some vegetation that had encroached on it’s edges.

We finished this drain quickly, and then took lunch in the shade of a large pine tree.

Clay and Victoria dozed off during lunch, but my overactive mind would never permit such luxuries. Instead, I remained alert, trying to take in the sights and sounds of this new location.

I glanced over at Victoria, and it occurred to me that she was one of the best bosses I’d ever had.

Victoria always made sure we did our work correctly, but she was patient with us when we made mistakes. Victoria also seemed confident in her authority, because she never asserted her power through petty acts.

Victoria’s leadership qualities mattered a great deal to me. I’d enjoyed considerable freedom at my previous job, so I was nervous about starting a new position where my supervisors would be breathing down my neck. Victoria’s relaxed and friendly managerial style put my mind at ease.

Of course, we still had more work to do. Victoria sent Clay and I to rendezvous with one of our Crew Leaders, Bonesteel, after lunch was over.

Clay and I trudged along, tools in hand, until we found Bonesteel. She, Maggie, and Sarah were digging a drain beneath a pine tree, while doing their bests to avoid hitting their heads on its low-hanging branches. Clay and I watched them work for a few minutes, and then it was time to go.

The day’s events were far from over, however.

We returned to our house that evening, and Sarah attempted to do her laundry. While this isn’t normally a momentous occasion, the washing machine that Sarah tried to use had just been installed, and apparently there were still a few kinks to work out.

As Sarah’s laundry began to cycle, water poured out from the hose connected to the back of the washing machine. It then flooded the kitchen floor at exactly the same time that we were making dinner.

A flood
What our kitchen looked like on the evening of July 10, 2020. Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay.

Victoria placed a bucket under the leaking hose, while Sarah frantically tried to mop up the pond that was forming in our kitchen. Always helpful during times of crisis, I watched with great amusement.

Sarah and Victoria eventually cleaned up the soapy flood, but the washing machine was out of order until we could get it fixed. This meant no laundry for several days.

Thankfully, tomorrow was the start of our weekend, so no one had to smell my housemates and I except for us.

I’m still living with limited internet, so please forgive me if it takes me longer than normal to respond to comments.

5 Thoughts

      1. These are skills that should be taught from an early age, I think! Too often leaders seem to believe they must be heavy-handed to be effective. I’m writing a follow-up post on leaders, Josh, and I would like to quote you and your blog if that’s okay…

        Liked by 1 person

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