thanksgiving

I know, I know…I’m way past Thanksgiving Day in posting this.  But, every year around Thanksgiving Day I ponder at how we (and by “we” I mean “I”) are not more focused at being thankful more regularly.

In any case, this is a post of thanksgiving as today is the first day of my last week of my first semester studying forestry (rhetoric mess that one).  It is at this closing that I am reflective on some of the many things I am thankful for thus far.  I will mention a few here…more are sure to follow in future posts.

Field Trips

Every class has field trips.  Not just one, but many actually.  This is a very rare thing as far as colleges go.  In truth, I haven’t been on a field trip since 5th grade?  These trips aren’t just fun (and they are fun) but they are relevant to what we are learning and further student understanding about what is taught.

So I’ll share an illustration of one of the latest field trips I got to go on.  My watershed ecology class has learned a lot about the Kings River this semester, and we have gotten to see the upper river, the river near campus, and this field trip was to tour the lower river.

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The lower river was quite the contrast to what we had seen such far, in fact most of it hardly was recognizable as a ‘river’ at all since there was no water present.  We all, of course, know of the drought and have heard of how many parts of the river are lower or dry…but seeing it first hand was quite something else.

We learned about all that goes into flood control.  Even when a river bed is dry, maintenance of vegetation and channel conditions must be attended to in anticipation of future rains.  Also something new an interesting to me is that water normally reaches the lower river if farmers are paying for the water to be irrigated to their land near by, because this part of the river is highly managed and has many weirs.  And, even more hard to believe, is that these try channel beds are sometimes flooded.

Mostly, this field trip was valuable to me (and I suspect our whole class) because it wrapped up a full concept of how rivers lack uniformity.  Without seeing different portions of the river firsthand, that concept would have taken weak root in our minds I think, but since we were provided the opportunity to see so many parts of the river, that concept is rooted deep.

Instructors Who Care

Speaking of field trips, these are only possible because Reedley College has instructors who care.  That may sound simple, but it is not self-evident as far as college instructors go.  Not all care, and certainly very few care as much as the instructors in the forestry program do here.  They care about getting to know students individually, care to help them find their path to employment, and care about aiding them in learning the subject matter to the best of their ability.

And field trips take a lot of work to pull together from their end, far more than students realize.  One example is the field trip we took to Shaver Lake to aid in a Christmas tree harvest for 3 cities.  It takes a lot of coordination and a good deal of paperwork to enable our class to participate, and our instructor did this for our benefit.

It was a great thing to be able to observe, and nearly all of my classmates were actually involved in the harvest itself by either climbing or felling one of the 3 trees (one tree for 3 different cities), and did impressively well at it too!

In brief this is how the process works:

  • Set up a ladder to get the climber as high up into the branches as possible
  • The climber climbs using ropes attached to branch wheels above and below him/her such that he/she is always tied in somewhere
  • Once high enough into the crown, the climber attaches a friction/tree saver harness around the trunk and hooks the other end to a crane hook
  • Climber climbs down the tree and everyone but the sawyer clears to a 300 foot distance
  • Sawyer cuts the tree
  • Crane lifts the tree vertically into the air and then maneuvers it until it lays laterally on truck bed
  • Crane meets a semi-truck a short distance away for the tree to be loaded for shipping back to the city the tree was harvested for

The two videos below give you a look at the climbing and cutting of the tree.

Climbing –

Harvesting –

It was a lovely day to be in the woods, so I was quite smitten with the lighting and the smell of pine abounding.  We got to be in the forest all day. This is school.

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Failures

Yes, I am thankful for failures.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I experienced a really hard day, for reasons that are still hard for me to explain to myself.  It was hit hard by the frustration of my inexperience and my embarrassment and impatience (with myself) for not being able to do more and having epic failures at the start of certain things.  And the bruise is still there despite how much I’ve tried to shake it off entirely.  But perhaps I am not supposed to shake it off entirely.

This photo below was taken by a friend of mine while I was in the deepest part of the trials of the day.  She didn’t do it maliciously, she did it out of kindness and sent it to me later as a means of encouragement.  I am paying that forward by sharing it as a means of encouragement to any of you who try something new and perhaps find yourself rather terrible at it.

Get back on that horse if you fall off.   You will hear of me mastering the mustang’s wild stride in time, you can master it too if you chose to.

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So, I am thankful for failures and struggles and hard days. Truly I am.  Because, in such moments, you get to test just how much determination and inner strength of character that you have.  In such moments you give others the opportunity to pay forward encouragement they have received from others, and the memory of this will help you do the same to someone in your future.  And you discover the gifts your friends are, and become overwhelmed by their kindness, by the realization that someone would care enough to care for you in your less-than-best moments.  That is astounding if you meditate on it long enough…so let it sink in.  And, it is through such experiences that you define to yourself just how much you want or do not want something…and learn if you are weak sauce or not.

I am not weak sauce.

So, I look at this picture and choose say to myself:

see you at Rematch 2015 chainsaw.

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