Ugly April Day

What an ugly, cold, miserable, windy, rainy day! (And I complain as one who had to be out in it, tagging trees, assembling traps, and as the lightning crackled and popped around us, hanging the purple box kites in trees.) Itʼs after 5:00 in the evening, dark as December (but maybe a pre-Saturnalian afternoon of about 3:20 CST).

In reality, although my partner and I were out and about today, we only put in perhaps two and a half hours. I know because I was at home, settling down to what I actually did do today, not long after 9:30 this morning. We only hung two traps (and thoroughly investigated one gridded four square miles completely to locate no usable ash tree, not even one). As we were trying to wrap up the northwestern quadrant of Clinton County, I donʼt think we even got much more than fifteen miles from home — but as I was the navigator, not the driver, I am not sure about the total miles driven.

I remain the active trapper, putting the sign on the tree (“Do not Disturb. USDA Ash Borer Project…”) and draping/tying a long visible ribbon of fluorescently bright tape nearby to mark the spot for future return visits to check the trapped bugs (or, as The Lovely One might say, “buggage”), assembling the cardboard contraption as the frigid winds howl gouts of rain right up my backside and into the opened rear hatch of the GOV, and with trap a-dangle at the end of the extended pole, attempting to ring a lofty but mostly horizontal branch with the “hanger.” (And successfully untangle the poleʼs hook from the hanger so as to retrieve the pole for future endeavors.) My partner is the mapping/paperwork/computer-file form-filler-outer. And she usually gets out to help hang the trap on the distant end of the pole before I lift it aloft for the savage winds to swoop and swerve.

But today, the gunshot pops of indiscriminate celestial electrical discharges (like an insane photographerʼs flash run randomly amok) followed by earthshaking, gut-rumbling and erratic double-stick snare drum rolls of omnipresent thunder were the straw. The one that broke… My partner called it a day even before I got that second trap in place (perhaps she took pity on the absolutely sodden — drenched from waist to foot  — and bumbling trap handler, me). So we turned right around and went straight back to Our Town, dropping me (and my extendable pole, requiring a painstaking cleansing of the infinitely glutinous goop and grass acquired from too intimate contact with the sticky sides of the traps — gluey to catch and hold the attracted bugs, of course) at home, where I spent my busy day not yet cleaning the pole (but soon — oh, yes, so very soon).

…just a sample

See, my work day was not shortened. Not this day. I had left training with two modules/lessons to complete. And exciting stuff it was, too (scored as utterly more enervating than Defensive Driving had been, significantly more soul-sapping than Visa-prepared lessons on utilization of the governmentʼs fleet cards  — blechh). I had to complete self-education from FEMA.* However, seven hours and two tests later, boy am I informed and approved on such arcana as NIMS, JFO, Incident Action Planning, ICP, Unity of Command, Span of Control, Staging Areas and Helispots, Operations/Logistics/Planning/Financial and Administration Sections, interoperability, Incident Management Teams, Emergency Management Assistance Compacts, resource analysis, Strike Forces, Transfer of Command Procedures, and… And you are not (to quote Mr.Chase, not of the loathed bank variety). Never, by the way, let anyone tell you the military has nothing to do with disaster relief…

And thatʼs how I spent my Tuesday. Online, staring at the big screen, stifling yawns, and forcing my attention to remain as riveted as humanly possible. Even as the rain deluged and rattled against the windows and the siding. And as the mere twenty traps — that we have successfully suspended — thrashed, terpsichored, and tumbled (and hopefully remained essentially in place in what I duly hope are indeed ash trees). But I should be/am now flawlessly FEMA certified (and I never realized before today that signing on to this seasonal job meant me volunteering to save, in my appropriate and delegated lowly role in the Chain of Command, the world in case of disaster).

So it goes. Tomorrowʼs forecast** to be a better day.

* And, demonstrably, in the training materials (not the tests) FEMA had an outright error, clearly contradicted by their own information. (I guess I am lucky that question was not on either test.) Details are available upon request…

** …and not “forecasted” — an irritating unlogism beloved of halfwit weather broadcasters and found today in the FEMA training materials.

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

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