Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trip Prep

I have been throwing a lot lately trying to get a little bit ahead as I have committed to going to the Sidney Market on thursday evenings and two of them fall inside of the workshop that I am going to on Salt Spring Island from July 19-31. I will make the trip back by bicycle and ferry to get here in time to throw a load of clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower and then load up for the trip down to the show. I will then sleep in my own bed that night (which happens to be my birthday) and then ride back to Crofton at 5am to catch the first ferry off our island to the othere island and back to the pottery course.

I am really looking forward to getting away for a while and reading some of the books in Judy Weeden's vast library of clay literature. Mainly I look forward to not doing production for a few days and just working with clay in a way that doesn't relate to a customer, also I am looking forward to not having any lessons, the last few months seem to have been filled with other people's kids who range in age from 6 to 16.

I might also be away from the Market and all that it entails, but it depends on how things are going with my sales whether I might come back for a few. It is funny but I am really starting to feel like I am attached to the Market and have committed so much time and thought to the good governance of the society with all it's foibles! The one true beauty of pottery is that you can put on the radio and be fully engaged with the first person account of the second world war that you are listening to or you can work in silence and be truly in the moment, in yourself and in your own space like other jobs I've had don't allow. You can also put your old Moxy Fruvus CD in and yell along to the words while you load the kiln and despair about the destruction of our planet. That came out sort of sad sounding..... I am finally very happy, I love my job and what it allows for. I can come upstairs at 230 and make a fresh meal for Dave that simmers and bubbles until he bumps his bicycle into the front door reaching for the doorknob, he opens the door and I am careful to watch as he pulls a huge breath of sweet smelling aroma into his nose and wonders what I've made him for dinner. You can't buy that with all the $8/hour jobs in the world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spend a Week in My Tree

That was by far one of the longer weeks in my life, perhaps not quite as long as the week I spent crawling around on my hands and knees in fire school learning search techniques, but long enough indeed! The bruises were getting worse every day and there wasn't any part of my lower body that I could rest against the tree to hold myself in place without pressing on a contusion. There were lots of emails coming in saying that what I was trying to do wasn't crazy but brave from family, in-laws and complete strangers!

Some pottery customers (Brenda and Brian) brought me an amazing gift basket with all sorts of fruit and snacks, even a box of danish brie that I nibbled with the crackers they gave me. I haven't had a gift box since I was starving my way through college and had forgotten how neat it is to open each jar of thoughtfulness and realize that each item in the box was carefully selected with you in mind. I lost 9 pounds in the tree week and needed a little extra food to get my strength back.

The long weekend ended with a cold rain and my coming down from my perch at 10pm to go home get a hot shower, nibble on some food and fall asleep on the couch until Dave made me get up and go to bed. I set my alarm for 4 am and was already awake as the alarm went off, in my Our Lady Peace T-shirt and out the door before 430. Dave buying and giving me the shirt with the tree on it was such a boost of support for me every time I looked at it or thought about it I felt accepted (even acting out like I was).

There was also a lot of support at the tree itself. All sorts of people came and chatted and a lady that lives on the creek that flows around the park we were in, came out for a walk the Tuesday morning and leaned against the tree and couldn't leave! There was a whole group gathered the morning that the workers came back to work. We all sat and waited and they talked among themselves, some of them talked about how they had called the municipal office when it was open and then called the mayor at home and talked to his wife. The thought of all these beautiful people calling the elected municipal counsellors at home during the long weekend made me laugh, maybe it wasn't just my weekend that was ruined by the decisions they had made to randomly cut trees down, maybe the people who actually approved of the plan could have a very long and tiring weekend!! (hahahhaha)

The City counsellors that had come to talk to me and see these gorgeous trees, worked through the weekend trying to get a consensus to ask the Municipality to sit down with them and find a way around the trees. There was a meeting scheduled between the two groups of politicians for the Wednesday. When I was told that meeting and was assured that no more trees would be cut until after they had talked, I assured them that I really appreciated all the hard work but that I wasn't getting down until I had a written letter proving that they would not cut anything down.

So I sat. I read aloud from a James Herriot. I adjusted on my bruises.
The assembled group stood, handed me tea and apple cake (made from local apples) and one of the naturalists, Genevieve Singleton, lent me a book about the ecosystem that lives around and under the Garry Oak trees full of beautiful photos. They chatted, took photos, shot video and everyone waited in the rain.

My little red cell phone rang in my zipper pocket, I answered, "Tree phone, Hilary speaking!" and it was the Mayor or North Cowichan. He told me that he was just stepping out of an unrelated meeting and had found out that the baseball people had found a way to work around the existing trees. I listened and wasn't sure what to say. I was happy but I guess I had never actually thought of what I would do if we won. I thanked him and then said that I would get down when I had that in writing. He explained that his staff was sending an official press release to all involved and the papers as we spoke!

I hung up and yelled for everyone to focus on me for a minute and then yelled that I had good news. A huge cheer went up from the group and everyone hugged the person beside them. What a lovely sight from way up there to see all these strangers embracing and laughing and in their own small way...winning.

They had done it! Each phone call and every email was counted and answered and applied the pressure that it was intended to. Each one of them owned this victory, they had become "public pressure"!

I got a group of rapid fire calls from the press and they said that they would bring down a copy of the press release that they had received, for me to read. I agreed to stay for a few photos and an interview and then started to undo my shelter and all the ropes that were securing my things.

It was funny how little a person really needed, mostly it was the support that everyone showed for the tree and the reasons that I was up there. My amazing husband was shocked when he called a while later and I told him I was back on the ground, I think he really expected to have to call all his friends to try to raise money to bail me out of jail. I handed my tarp and tea and backpack down to the helpful hands of the people who were waiting.

I climbed down and was hugged.

They took pictures.

They smiled and laughed and answered questions and dispersed slowly, very satisfied.

I was feeling a little lost, like I had been pushing against a huge brick wall with all my might and then the wall just disappeared.

I fell over, emotionally and felt kind of shocked. I automatically packed all my bits and pieces into and onto my back pack and decided to walk out through the middle of the construction site. I wanted to say good-bye to the foreman who had to worry about me on his site for a week. He stopped the machine he was in and walked over to the mucky road that I was on and grinned really wide. I had made my point and no one had gotten hurt or even really been confronted. I asked him if he had heard the news. I wanted to know if the politicians had told the only people that really mattered in this struggle, the guy with the plans and the chainsaw. We walked out to the paved road and he made a silly attempt to show the other construction workers that he was hauling me out by my arm. We had a good laugh and walked on.

Once at the edge of the construction site, we both instinctively turned around and looked back across the 30+ acres to admire the grand old tree glistening, maybe even sparkling in the pre-noon sunlight, her canopy full and strong.

A small breeze fluttered all her south facing leaves. She was saying thank you. She was tall and strong and staring me right back in the heart. She was saying.....nothing. As if she had always known that she was only alive by the mercy of her neighbours.

That day, that week, I was her neighbour. Then everyone was a good neighbour, they gave a damn, a phone call, an email, a gentle nudge to their friends, they pushed back.

Then the sun broke through the clouds and in a way that only happens here, the fresh rain really did sparkle off of every surface of that grand old tree.

Just a tree....my ass!!! (pun intended)