September 18, 2020
My bowels awaken me from a deep slumber at 5:25 am. I unzip my sleeping bag, slide-on sandals and emerge from the tent. Scampering up to the poop pit, I pick a couple broad-leaved maple leaves disguised as perfect nature wipes. I do my thing, hand sani, and climb back into my mobile abode for a morning meditation session, the foundation of a balanced day, the most sacred time of day. Shortly after, my sidekick/ co-leader, Elliott, wakes up the crew member preparing breakfast. Fifteen minutes later, I awaken the rest of the crew with ukulele strumming and my voice. We slowly but surely gather around the table, spread with oatmeal, granola, powdered milk, dates, coffee, and tea. I enjoy my morning meal nestled in a crazy creek chair. The crew circles and chats about dreams, random thoughts, etc. I love mornings but not everyone does.
A half-hour later or so we gather for the safety stretch circle. The leader of the day (LOD) chooses a question of the day, something silly like “if you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Or “if you could have any superpower, what would it be?” We also include one thing we are grateful for and a safety concern to be aware of related to the type of work we are doing that day.
We grab our packs, hop in the vehicles, and drive to our worksite. The crew is passing around the AAA, Megan’s, or my phone to add to the queue, bumping jams on a stunning albeit bumpy ride to Blue Lake trailhead.
Elliott and I park the vehicles, the crew wears PPE and handles tools. Together we walk with daypacks and tools. We are doing trail maintenance by removing trees (mostly manzanitas) within an arm-length span on both sides of the trail. A couple of crew members do finishing touches with McCleods to lightly shape and flatten the trail.
The morning feels fresh and cool. This is one of the most stunning work sites I’ve ever been to. I marvel at the beauty surrounding me and feel grateful to be working out in nature amidst a global pandemic with a hardworking, collaborative crew of young folks.
We break for 15 minutes, gulp water, gorge on salty snacks, perhaps even indulge in the first peanut butter and jelly tortilla of the day. The physical work really increases our appetites.
As we continue to work, we further along the trail heading towards the majestic Blue Lake, sometimes entirely exposed, frying out like a lizard on a rock. Sunscreen is passed around and Megan reminds us to WAM or in other words have a “Water Appreciation Moment.” We speak of water we are grateful for like the rain, sweat, ocean, lakes, tears, etc, and take a drink from our Nalgenes of the sweet nectar of life, basking in the deep appreciation of high-quality H2O that hydrates us.
Alas, it is lunchtime. We get a whopping half-hour to nourish ourselves, replenish our energy levels with food. Luckily today we also take a quick dip in a nearby pond. The temperature is 90 degrees. Azure colored dragonflies swirl and hover over the pond. A few crew members lay on rocks and submerge their heads. I change into my suit and swim, fully cooling my body, revitalizing my cells.
Work continues for a few more hours, yanking and uprooting manzanitas along the trail while playing games like 21 questions or solving riddles to keep morale high and pass the time.
Around 3:35, Elliott hollers, “Tool up!” The crew gathers the tools, chugs aqua, and marches down the trail, heading for the vehicles to drive back to our campsite.
We arrive back “home,” change into swimsuits and frolick towards the creek for the most refreshing cold water swim. This is not only to cool ourselves but to bathe as we rarely if ever take actual showers during PCREW. Muhahaha.
Some choose to wash their stinky, sweaty, dirty clothes as it is highly recommended.
I swim and crawl on rocks to nature’s pressure washer, a perfectly placed small waterfall to sit under and have a moment to “shower.” This is the life!
After this liquid refreshing renewal, we dry off, change, and begin chores. A couple of crew members begin dinner, one crew member organizes lunch making, LOD journals, water person fetches water to filter. Meanwhile, the trailer organizer and dishwashing folks get this time to read, nap, or do what they please since their chores occur after dinner.
I sit in the crazy creek reading and doing paperwork on the tablet. A few others are reading and perhaps playing the kalimba. This is a peaceful place to be.
The crewmember or shall I say “master chefs” whip up a scrumptious meal with limited ingredients. LOD gathers the crew for dinner circle. We connect in a circle in whichever way the LOD pleases. Perhaps we link arms, outsides of the feet, palms, etc. The idea is that we must all be connected in some way. Crew members signal if they have an appreciation of someone or something and verbally share. Cooks describe the dinner they’ve created and state serving sizes. The LOD comes up with a pulse, a way to spread our energy from one person to the next. This could be by a squeeze of the hand, a sound or a movement that gets passed on. We break and wash hands.
Food is collected inside each of our bowls. We circle up in crazy creeks and chat about what’s on our minds. Laughter is abundant.
Second servings and thirds are called. The compost crew acts as the human garbage disposal. No food is wasted.
Dishes commence and a walk to the sump is taken.
Depending on time, the crew may have a half-hour of free time before an evening group activity but most of the time we roll right into the group activity. There are a variety of group activities that occur: personal stories may be shared followed by an angel walk and cinnamon roll hug, mini one-on-one deep question and answer sessions, or a game of Pictionary telephone to name a few. It’s an opportunity for everyone to speak and be heard. It’s an opportunity for a deeper connection, a bonding, an imperative time since we’re working and living so closely with one another for so long. It’s good to get to know each other.
Debrief, chores, and overview of the next day follow. The debrief is a question about the day or experience with PCREW that ignites reflection such as: “What was your high and low of the day?” “What was the most challenging part of the day?” or “Please describe your day/week as a rollercoaster.” Megan goes over who has which chores for the following day and Elliott or I explain what will be happening the next day. We set a time limit for tent time, crew brushes their teeth, and are told when lights out.
The leadership team yawns through our own debrief, star gazes for a moment, and crawls into our tents.
As soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m asleep soundly.
There’s no place I’d rather be.
– Abby, 2020 Crew Leader, Yellow Hats