2016 Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District Native Plant Sale - McMinnville, OR
See you in February at the 2016 Native Plant Sale
February 4, 5 & 6
Yamhill Valley Heritage Center
11275 Durham Lane - McMinnville
(Hwy 18 at Durham Lane West of McMinnville)
Date / Time
Start Time: Thursday, February 04, 2016 12:00 AM
End Time: Saturday, February 06, 2016 12:00 AM
Name: Yamhill Valley Heritage Center
Street: 11275 Durham Lane (Hwy 18 at Durham Lane West of McMinnville)
The Timber Cruiser
Squall after squall smashed into the hillside racing in from the western horizon. Every sixty minutes another vicious little storm pummeled the trees with wind and rain. Just for variety Mother Nature occasionally mixed in some pea-size hail. Each weather burst lasted for a dozen minutes, and then the skies reverted to a solid overcast of fast-moving clouds. Except for me and my two faithful companions, all the other critters of the forest had taken shelter.
My boots had long since stopped being waterproof or even water-resistant. They were just cold, wet sponges wrapped around some wrinkled toes and ankles. My rain pants and jacket had turned against me, too, trapping all my sweat in my wool shirt and pants. I was wet from both the outside and the inside elements. Leather gloves were equally soggy although they still repelled the salmonberry and devil’s club thorns. Only the top of my head was dry because it was covered with a hard hat—not warm due to lack of hair, but at least dry.
No use fighting the elements; just accept my predicament and keep going. I was a thousand feet below the ridgetop trail, a half mile from my truck, 120 miles from my woodstove in Salem. Meanwhile, two pairs of sullen, brown eyes watched my every movement, pleading to end this wet misery and get back to the truck.
Every time I stopped—exactly 264 feet along this north-south compass line—my two canines searched for some semi-dry shelter. Sometimes it was under a nearby log or a clump of brush. Sometimes it was just a shallow hole desperately scratched into the hillside soil, but always the wet, pathetic balls of fur curled up and tucked nose under tail, moving only their eyes to track me. They had no intention of being left behind.The timber sale would sell in a week, and there was no waiting for better weather. I had been chosen to figure out how many, what kind, and how good these soon-to-be-harvested trees really were. I was the scout, the point man, the timber cruiser who would measure the cellulose that grew on the mountainside. Photos, computers, and GPS devices could tell no one just how good or defective the trees might be. It required a real live person to traipse across the hillsides and report back to the office. The company president would not even see these large plants before he bid thousands of dollars for the timber. It all came down to me to tell him what was really there.
Just twenty-five feet away there was a shattering crash. A gust of wind had loosened a widowmaker from a tall tree, hurtling the limb through the air and slamming into the ground. My hard hat, and whatever was under it, could have been crushed by the huge branch.
The gray overcast was rapidly fading towards black as the sun slipped behind the ridgeline. It was a race to finish the timber cruise before nightfall. Just two more plots to complete and I could begin the steep climb to the ridgetrail and my truck. Two plots required a half hour, plus another half hour to the trail, plus a half hour hike to the truck, all under the cover of darkness. Piece of cake!
Each plot contained a dozen trees that required a dozen different vantage points and a personal visit to measure. It seemed like every tree was obscured from view by another tree or brush or something. Measure tree diameters. Check tree heights. Grade each log in every tree. Climb up the hill, down the hill, scrambling among rocks, brush and windfalls to find a viewpoint.
My Goldens lay quietly nearby watching my desperate antics as I slipped and tripped around the plot. They did not know why I endured this insane work under such miserable conditions. They only knew I was the leader of this “pack” and would lead them to warmth sooner or later.
My field notebook was a soggy mess. It would be a challenge to decipher my scribblings when I wrote my report back in the office. Days of field work would eventually be distilled into a neatly typed dialogue of descriptions, statistics and values. There would be no mention of wet feet, the near misses, or the driving rainstorms I experienced. Just the hard-earned facts summarized into tables and maps.
With a shocking splatt, another vine maple branch slapped me in the face while I scrambled across the terrain. My two faithful companions trailed behind. Their sodden fur was streaked with mud and decorated with bits of ferns and bark. So was I.
I stumbled to my last plot; it was at the base of a rock ledge. The rocks were slick with moss and the footing was treacherous. At least there were only three trees to measure and I wasted no time romantically contemplating the beauty of Nature. The surrounding fresh air was turning cold and the light rain was changing to light snow to increase our misery.
An hour of hard climbing and hiking finally brought us to the pickup truck. I stared at my backtrail already disappearing under a fresh white blanket. I didn’t have to coax either dog into the truck as I shucked off my rain gear. Wet boots and clothes would eventually dry out once the truck heater was switched on high. Both dogs collapsed and were fast asleep before we were back on the paved road. I only had to drive two more hours before I could collapse in a comfy chair before my wood stove.
Warm and sunny days would eventually return, and I would appreciate them all the more because of this day.
Damn, but I do love this job!
Julie Lorenzen Yamhill SWCD