Wednesday, 09 January 2013
For those who are still faithfully checking this blog - thank you! I apologize for the extended absence. Christmas brought to a close one of the toughest (and busiest semesters) of my life to date.That, and preparations for my move back to Saskatchewan, are my excuses. But, I have finally got a new blog up and running, here: http://elizabethjashton.blogspot.ca/. I will blogging regularly from there here on out. come along! And, thank you for visiting and bothering to read what I've said here for all these years.-BethAgain - new blog - http://elizabethjashton.blogspot.ca/
Friday, 05 October 2012
Hi. It's been a while. But, I have come to a conclusion. I don't want to stop blogging. But, I have to figure out a different way of doing so. Sometimes a fresh start and a location change can help. So, I have decided to start a new blog. But, I still have bits and pieces written for this blog that I never posted. So. Read on.
Cook Your Brains Out. August.
I sit in a quiet and empty camp, save my canine companion, Nikki.
The marks of the season are visible on my body - burn on my arms legs and hands in varying states of healing. Long, unkempt air and barely there personal grooming otherwise.
The end of the season is upon us, which feels surreal. 3 months gone. Cook your brains out - that's what I scrawled under my name at the Bearberry Pub at Julie's bush stagette a week ago. Elizabeth Ashton, The Plant 2012, Cook Your Brains Out.
I have discovered much this year/season. During, the past school year and indeed out planting, I have discovered so much weakness in myself. So much fear, so much shrinking. Why has this all risen to the surface in this year of joy and new beginnings? I don't know. But, I feel it is coming to an end. Last season, I discovered how resilient and strong I was, of course, weakness was there as well, but I made it through this crazy new challenge called bush cooking with no one there to guide me. This year I discovered new hesitancy. Forming myself around others wishes and strength, not wanting to makes waves. Yet, I resented it and I let that resentment explode out of me at the wrong people for the wrong reasons. I acted in ways that I am sorry to claim, but do it I must. And try get a handle on this temper that has reared its head too many times this summer. The flash. The jab. The hurt. And the regret that follows.
I hope to head into a different year this year. A year of joy, but a year of honing my tongue and mind, focusing on truer sources of strength than myself. Of loving and living better. Yes.
But back to the season. It has been good. There are many wonderful people in camp this year and many more moments of fun than last year. There have been theme nights, talent shows, an unreal and may I say, shocking, amount of skin on dress day.
I miss taking film photos, but it feels as if my hands have forgotten the feel of my camera. The heaviness, the weight and the significance of record. Taking photos with my new iPhone feels like an entirely different activity because it is.
But I miss the intimacy of film. The privacy. A photograph can stay forever hidden and unseen, if you don't want to physically share it with another.
I am excited to move to Saskatoon. For newness and change. But I had a moment of desperate sadness today, waking up in Saskatoon, eager to get back to Abbotsford for the start of school and to begin a new season with friends - married friends with houses and rooms of their own! How can I leave these people I love so deeply? I feel like it'll be like phantom limbs, waking up and feeling like they should be there. Down the hall. At supper. Every day.
Monday, 25 June 2012
There is alternating rain and sun today. Just like yesterday.
It is day 2 of our break. A break that I am very thankful for; a handful of days between spring and summer plant. Though I have more time this year - I am cooking faster and spending less time in the kitchen - there still is little time to write letters or write anything at all. I have filled the extra hours with much needed sleep and am much more balanced and happy during the days because of it.
Mid-way through spring, when the snow has disappeared, even on the high elevation blocks, and the rain has come, the lusher parts of camp explode into green. The path down from my tent to the gravel pit part of camp where the cook trailer (and main part of camp is) is filled with leaves that were still buds when we arrived. The dew in the morning brushes onto my sleeves as I stumble out of my tent and towards the kitchen.
A week later.
Spring plant has turned to summer and I feel like the season is racing by. Last year, it felt like I had been gone forever; this year, in a little over a month I will be back in Abbotsford, getting gussied up for Beth and Mark's wedding. A nice dress, hair and make-up will be a welcome change from the dirt, grease and oil that is usually coating me during my three months as head cook. Last night was the first hotel stay of the season and it was worth it for the bath alone. I luxuriated in the warm water, reading a magazine and pretending I had no responsibilities. Planting makes small things feel like luxuries, like bathrooms. With a little over a month to go, thoughts of August begin to enter my mind. I can dare think about life beyond planting. However, if one does this too soon, the risk is run of growing bitter and frustrated with camp life. It is a balancing act. However, I am looking forward to the next contract. We are moving to my favorite campsite of all time outside of Sundre, AB and I am hoping to enjoy some hours relaxing down by the river and getting my tan on.
This year is so much different than last year. It is a camp of rookies with a few vets sprinkled through the crews. A more positive camp than last year, maybe it comes down to personalities or maybe it is the freshness of their first year of planting. Whatever it is, I am appreciating it. I am not cooking in a tent this year - I got a brand new, hug, cooking trailer. It is really, really nice.
Well, I am signing off from the laundromat, where we have been stuck for hours while Tim's truck is getting serviced. Or more accurately, not getting serviced, but siting in the parking lot of Ford. Alas, what can you do?
Enjoy your summers - be lazy and soak up the rays. When I get a a couple moments to spare, that is exactly what I plan on doing,
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
School is weighing heavy. At this time of the semester, it always does. Next week holds three deadlines - two major and nerve inducing. When I think back to this time last year, there are elements that are the same as well as some encouraging differences.
Last year: I was stress- central, wondering if I was crazy to think I could head cook for 50 planters in the bush, taking required courses and scrambling to finish four classes. There were a lot of pep talks and a few tears. I was stepping down from my role as a Director at Atangard and while I thought (and feel now) it was probably for the best, it was a hard decision. I care deeply about Atangard and know that without sacrifice and committment, it can not exist. I felt like I was letting Atangard down by stepping back. While feeling a bit scared to tackle the new challenge of planting, I was eager for a new experience that was far away from Atangard and from school.
This year: Though I have nearly finished two more semesters in the meantime, treeplanting feels less than 7 months ago. But, like last year, I am ready to get out of the books and back into the bush. I am stressed about projects, yes, but not at the same level as last year. Though this may seem crazy to Tim (a new addition to my life since last year as well, who I am thrilled to lame and embarrassing levels about), I have taken many more breaks from school this year and it has come down a few notches on the importance scale. That few notches of change, I feel, brings it to a more healthy and sustainable level.
(WARNING: RANT TO FOLLOW, FOR REFLECTION, JUST SKIP TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH)
So, you may or may not have seen the video So You Want to go Treeplanting. It is pretty funny, but technically I am only allowed to think it is so funny, because I am "only a cook". For a moment, let me just mini-rant against this sentiment. NO, I am not a treeplanter. NO, I did not plant any trees this summer and I NEVER spent a day on the block. But, I did get multiple burns/scars from the oven, insanely hot pans, steam (seriously) and boiling water. Sometimes mice were my first company while making breakfast at 4 30 AM. I averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. I had to chip apart massive amounts of bacon that refused to thaw in the morning, with my fingers alternating between so numb they didn't work and so numb they throbbed with a weird shooting pain. With my insistence on chopping massive amounts of vegetables (and probably the way I chopped, to be honest) I now have a carpal tunnel type thing going on. When your (planters) day was over, I was still working. I was also working before you got up. So, don't tell me I didn't see the tough side of planting!
I hope you found that moderately amusing or I'll be very embarrassed. All that aside, I am excited to go back. Treeplanting can be a pain in the ass, as evidenced in the video and in my rant. But, it's also kind of awesome. Yes, I got sick of my tent by the end of the season. But I loved living outside all summer. I liked working with my hands instead of only my brain. A day of hard work does feel good and it does feel honest. Last summer, it was so easy to be present. Cooking, and most of the other positions out there, demand a lot of attention and energy. So, useless worrying just doesn't happen nearly as much as in normal life. I do a solid amount of useless worrying, so I mark that in the bonus column. I didn't have a lot of time to read and to reflect as I had kind of hoped going out there. Looking back, I don't think that's a bad thing. Being present is gift enough.
So, vive la plantation d'arbres!
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
The Old Man & The Sea
By Ernest Hemingway
Radish still life by Tim Robison Jr.
I am surrounded by words. Words in my head, unwritten. Words on papers and files, forming assignments. Words in textbooks and on government websites that make my head hurt just thinking about decoding them. Poems that I don't have time to write and reflections scribbled down on a sunshine-y bus ride. Words that I am holding in, bursting to say. Some will be said eventually, some never need to be. Worries formed into never-ending strands of words, no commas, no periods, just everlasting, snaking lines of text. Words forming ideas, inspiration, exclamation!
I am amazed each time I write a paper (or on the rare occasion that I manage to finish and show someone a poem) how the process of committing it to paper changes it. How brilliance seems somehow absorbed by the paper. How stark it looks, how vulnerable, lying there on the white page!
I have written before and I write it again - I am trying become better at listening as talking comes far easier to me. Is it not a kind of listening while I read? But books are not people. People deserve an ear, not a mouth (as do books, but it is much harder to hurt their feelings).
Books are different creatures. Books are there, silent, waiting to be read. An oasis of peace amongst all the words and worries. I know that shouldn't make sense, to find refuge from words amongst them, but for me, it absolutely does. My deep love for words is one of the reasons I love poetry. I have a whole shelf (a small shelf) of poetry, come borrow some! For it is in poetry that words shine - unencumbered by story. I adore a good story, but words are not the star of novels.
In a rambling post on words, you are not going to escape without a poem.
LOVE SONG by Pablo Neruda (translation by William O'Daly)
I love you, I love you, is my song
and here my silliness begins.
I love you, I love you my lung,
I love you, I love you my wild grapevine,
and if love is like wine:
you are my predilection
from your hands to your feet:
you are the wineglass of hereafter
and my bottle of destiny.
I love you forward and backwards,
and I don't have the tone or timbre
to sing you my song,
my endless song.
On my violin that sing out of tune
my violin declares,
I love you, I love you my double bass,
my sweet woman, dark and clear,
my heart, my teeth,
my light and my spoon,
my salt of the dim week,
my clear windowpane moon.