I came to Vermont to be the new Director of Operations for the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. I am sure it’s not a surprise to the reader to learn that this is an “indoor” job – finance and HR, hours at the computer screen. But occasionally they let people like me out into the field to experience natural light and weather. Today was such a day.
Today we had a staff retreat to the Eshqua Bog Natural Area in Hartland, just south of Woodstock. There is soon to be a big project underway to rebuild the boardwalk for universal access, for which we have hired the Montpelier firm Timber and Stone. Outside of this project, the site also has a couple of bridges in need of replacement, and so Josh and Alex from Timber & Stone were on hand to guide a group of largely inexperienced but enthusiastic volunteers in replacing the rotting structure in place with a solid, new 25-foot span.
To me this sounded like an ambitious plan for one day, but Josh soon had us herded into three groups tasked with placing sills, building stringers and cutting decking. Shortly after noon the components were complete. After a lunch of stone soup (made with veggies from our own gardens), home made bread, and some trail-building stories from Josh we lugged any remaining parts to the bridge site and began assembly.
It was fun to work as a team in this fashion, and to tackle tasks with co-workers with whom I wouldn’t normally work so closely. Josh and Alex tackled most of the finer details, but largely guided us through the work. And, lo and behold, once the skeleton was in place, the deck went on quickly. By 4:00, I was tasked with placing the final sink screw into the curb, and the job was complete.
It was also great fun to work with Josh and Alex. Josh’s enthusiasm for building trails – helping folks connect with nature and doing so in an Earth-friendly manner – is truly infectious. It’s a lot of hard work and usually long-days, but he addresses his work with great calm and humor. I hope to have the opportunity again in the future.