Cold Day at Work

I got to see some supposedly pretty parts of Clinton County today. Unfortunately, I was driving and not observing the natural, rural wonders of eastern Iowa. I did notice one nice vista across a little pond toward some evergreens at an intersection. But since I was mostly driving on gravel roads in a still not-completely-familiar vehicle beneath icy and heavily overcast skies with a good wind (perhaps twenty miles per hour?) blowing its wild way around me, I mostly just studied the layers of excess gravel and the bare black muddy patches of road that would require special navigation. Furthermore, it was cold. I donʼt think we topped forty degrees Fahrenheit all day. And if the air officially got warmer than that, the forceful wind chilled things considerably back into the near-freezing range.

Our Iowa skies were definitely not this blue or clear today…

I worked the morning on my own, as my partner had a medical appointment before she could drive over to Our Town and register at one of our two chain motels (she wisely chose the one which is newer, larger and farther-from-my-house). She had recommended that, rather than pointlessly waiting for her to arrive, I should try to get a trap set (my first entirely on my own) at the local campground on the south end of town. I had checked it out on my way back in on Thursday and knew there were plenty of ash trees out there, some pretty tall and bare of branches until a long way up. I also figured I should contact city hall for formal permission before I just did my thing.

City Hall was quite agreeable, although they insisted they needed no more ash borer information cards or handouts, so I drove straight out to the campground and put up a trap. I had gotten pretty smooth (although I assume, from my partnerʼs perspective, painfully slow yet) assembling the purple cardboard contraption — awling a hole in each side flap through which to thread a plastic, self-locking tie strap; inserting the three prongs of the “spreader” on the top; dangling three bags of lure from the spreader; and then attaching a hook. Back at the office during training (lovely days of sun and pretty decent warmth, now just a bright, faded yearning in my soul), I had not been a star at hanging the assembled trap, using my forty- (?) foot, extendable pole. I got better last Thursday, but I still have trouble keeping the trapʼs hook on the hook at the end of the pole. And itʼs usually a struggle to get the trapʼs hook over a branch high up in a tree (being ashes, these trees have plenty of “junk” branches growing helter-skelter everywhere). However, I got my trap up at the campground and the necessary digital and paper records completed in pretty good time, so I set out to get more traps in the Maquoketa area up.

I actually did five traps before it was time to meet my partner and depart for southerly climes (one county south). Sadly, that number meant I averaged five per hour until noon.

We did better during the afternoon not-quite-five hours, positioning a dozen more — nearly a respectable number (I had heard at training that in the old eight-hour days some people could plan on getting fifteen traps up). It wasnʼt quite five hours because travel time counts, and we needed to get my GOV [see yesterdayʼs post/footnotes] parked by 5:30 (didnʼt quite do that well: mine wound up an eleven-hour day).

However, my first actually full day of work is finished, and I am not (utterly) dead or in (hideous) muscle pain. By my count I only have 192 more such days (or thereabouts) left…

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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