AmeriCorps 2020: Where is your heart?

This post continues the tale of my AmeriCorps term in Colorado in 2020: performing trail work and ecological restoration for the City of Boulder. The rest of this series is located here.

A Spotted Towhee (I believe, please help me out, birders!) as seen on August 1, 2020.

August 5, 2020 began like most of my days in Colorado. My AmeriCorps crew and I had an early morning van ride to the Fern-Mesa reroute project, which once again required us to drive through the bourgeois city of Boulder.

After we’d driven as far as we could, we then hiked to our worksite, where I began my workday by finishing a nasty section of trail that I’d been improving last week. Once I’d completed that spot, Jo moved me to a workstation between her and Kait.

For new readers, Jo and Kait were my main contacts with the City of Boulder. They worked closely with my AmeriCorps crew and I, teaching us various skills related to trail building and maintenance.

I’d joked that Jo was evil and possessed diabolical powers, but this was false. In reality, Jo was one of the nicest people I’d ever met: she was usually laughing (or cackling, more accurately) and was exceptionally patient. Kait mirrored Jo in many ways, such as her patience and fondness for laughter.

All of this meant that working between Jo and Kait was great fun. However, at one point Jo surprised me by asking a serious question: “Josh, where is your heart?” My broken, sleep-deprived memory recalls that question as referring to the phrase, “home is where the heart is.”

I was taken aback by receiving a serious question from Jo, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. I also didn’t want to get too personal – since she was sort of my boss – so I just said, “I don’t know.”

This was a truthful answer, though: at the time I didn’t feel like I had a home. Of all the places I’d lived in or visited, Canada felt the most like home, but I hadn’t the slightest clue how to move there.

My chalet at Camp 3 Saisons/3 Season’s Camp in Quebec.

Jo followed-up this question by asking what my plans were once I finished my AmeriCorps term. I stammered through this as well, replying that I wanted to get my Ph.D. once COVID settled down, and that I wouldn’t mind doing trail work for a year or two while I formalized those plans.

At this point, Jo suggested that I use trail work to explore more of the United States. Apparently, this is something that people do: they work trail gigs as ways to spend time in cool places.

If I was younger I might’ve jumped on that suggestion, but at that point in my life I craved stability. I’d seen enough of the U.S. for a while, and I wanted a place where I could settle down. In fact, I was increasingly coming to suspect that Colorado might be that place.

But it would not be that day. Eventually, our workday came to an end, and it was time for my crew and I to head home. We therefore gathered our tools, hiked to our van, and drove back to the Joder homestead.

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