Ryan, Kerry, Herizons
Deep Forests, Big Timber and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe
REVIEW BY KERRY RYAN
For many Canadians, tree planting is a rite of passage. For the rest, it's a romantic notion quickly dispelled by the harsh reality of our landscape and the gruelling repetitiveness of the work. There's the fresh air (brutal heat, drenching rain), the pristine natural surroundings (black flies, bears), an honest day's work (blisters, scrapes, aching backs), the sense of self-determination (isolation, whatever the opposite is of cabin fever) and the chance to undo environmental damage (futility, insignificance).
I've learned all about the triumphs and frustrations of slinging seedlings - from the cushiness of my chesterfield. Sure, my face wasn't whipped by branches, my clothes weren't stiff with sweat and grime, but Charlotte Gill's memoir of the tree planting life. Eating Dirt, made me feel the grinding exhaustion, see the stunning views and experience the strained camaraderie as if it was my own.
It's no wonder Gill's writing is so effective. She's both an accomplished storyteller (her award-winning short story collection Ladykillerwas published in 2005) and veteran tree planter (her career has spanned 20 years - and her seasons extended well beyond the summer months). …