Fuels Reduction Project in Travis County

In the morning, the ritual collection of the day’s tools and provisions. Labyrinthine bungee wrap around our fleet of chainsaws upon the vehicle rack.

Roll call and salutations and we’re off! Met with stop-and-go traffic but the pauses are complete with chit chat or radio songs. Geological layers line the highways and the views beyond the hills lead to disbelief of one’s transplantation in Texas.

The project site tucked away in a well-to-do neighborhood; elaborate mansions and smooth asphalt with Lake Travis as their recreational pool. One cannot help but to discourse politics and conspiracy theories.

We arrive and the lay of the land is thus: oaks thick and thin and junipers short and tall. The canopy of leaves provides shade aplenty; a Sawyer and Swamper’s ideal milieu. Should a fire burn let it burn low and quick. That is what we aim to make of this land.

John awakes the wood chipper for it to do our bidding. He has a sharp mind and a deft hand for all things mechanical. I appreciate him greatly for this.

Four, five pulls and the saw was loathe to start. Air filter tapped and the spark plug wished upon. A special start is the final resort; the “after school special” is our colloquial bestowment to this sacred act. A purr and then a roar–it lives!

Limbs and young saplings fall left and right under the spinning teeth. The Swampers deliver them to Hell’s Gate and afterwards tend their graves (with mcleods).

The air is sweet with wood dust. Lunch is called and we climb aboard the truck bed. Whatever comes to mind we talk of: morbid and ridiculous news headlines, internet memes and jokes, movie and television plot and trivia; sometimes we lapse into silence. One learns very well how to engage others in conversation and to listen, even if one is not very talkative.

In the afternoon, the hours pass in the same manner.

The prettiest singular entity I did see was a dormant beetle Emilie found (she mistook it for candy); a belly of dull rouge and a shell of nacreous, metallic luster.

A shower of rain on the final day. It was cool and portent of autumn. We are nine months into our 11.5 month term. Looming in the back of our minds is the uncertainty of where or who we will be after Texas Conservation Corps. But, if we continue to take on everyday with placidity and gumption, I believe things will fall into place.


Hadley Wan

White Crew – A Disaster Response Team

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